November 21st, 2023
Today, a network of right wing groups primarily funded by Republican millionaire Brian Heywood submitted what they said were over 418,000 signatures supporting I-2117, an initiative that seeks to repeal Washington State’s landmark Climate Commitment Act, and pledged to return soon to submit signatures for another five measures that they hope to qualify as initiatives to the Legislature in 2024.
In response, the Northwest Progressive Institute, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit strategy center that has been working for over two decades to expand freedom and prosperity for Washingtonians, Oregonians, and Idahoans, relaunched its StopGreed.org website to help Washingtonians understand the danger posed by these six measures.
StopGreed.org was originally built in 2010 to urge Washington voters to defeat a slew of destructive initiatives that were on that year’s ballot. It has been maintained since then as an archive. But as of today, StopGreed.org has a second act. The site will serve as an informational opposition hub to I-2117 and the five other measures that Heywood’s groups want to qualify by December 29th. The list of measures is as follows:
- Initiative 2117 — repeals the Climate Commitment Act, which is raising funds to fight climate damage
- Initiative 2109 — repeals billions in education funding by eliminating the capital gains tax on the wealthy
- Initiative 2113 — rolls back restrictions on police pursuits that are making our communities safer
- Initiative 2124 — sabotages the WA Cares plan to help Washingtonians afford long-term care
- Initiative 2111 — bars the state and local governments from levying taxes based on ability to pay
- Initiative 2081 — forces public schools to give parents information that students may not want shared
All of the initiatives are sponsored by State Republican Party Chair Jim Walsh, who is himself a state legislator.
An analysis of Let’s Go Washington’s contributions prepared by NPI shows that Heywood (a businessman who is the has provided over 87% of the funding for the six initiatives. Most of that money has been used to hire crews to gather signatures. )at
The petition drive was entrusted to a firm named Your Choice Petitions, LLC, out of Spokane, which belongs to a convicted forger named Brent Johnson. See NPI’s reporting for more information about Johnson and his relationship with Tim Eyman associate Roy Ruffino.
“Brian Heywood and Jim Walsh’s initiatives are a grave threat to Washington’s future,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who attended the group’s signature turn-in in Tumwater along with NPI boardmember Yanah Cook and fellow Climate Reality activists.
Villeneuve was trained by former Vice President Al Gore and his team in Bellevue several years ago to give Gore’s famous presentation on the climate crisis, which is the centerpiece of the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth. He has been organizing opposition to statewide initiatives like I-2117 since 2002, when he founded NPI’s Permanent Defense project to take on former initiative promoter Tim Eyman.
“America and the world are in dire need of climate action leadership at this critical moment for humanity. Washington State has been a beacon of hope in dark and disturbing times, but now our local right wing wants to roll back the clock and eliminate the billions in revenue the Climate Commitment Act is raising to provide a path to a clean energy future,” said Villeneuve. “That’s unacceptable. I heard Brian Heywood and Jim Walsh say today they’re not against holding polluters accountable for their emissions, but their actions belie their words. They have no climate action plan of their own, and they know it. Nevertheless, they seem to have realized that admitting that they don’t care about saving our planet from climate damage will make it harder for them to sell I-2117. That is telling.”
For each initiative they want to qualify, Heywood, Walsh, and Let’s Go Washington must submit around 405,000 signatures for each of them by the end of this year — December 29th at 5 PM Pacific Time, to be precise.
The Constitution requires that initiatives receive a number of signatures equivalent to 8% of the number of people who voted in the last election for governor to qualify. The minimum number of valid signatures required is currently 324,516, however, 405,000 is the number of signatures the Secretary of State recommends submitting to ensure qualification. That latter number includes a cushion to account for duplicate and invalid signatures.
Because these are all initiatives to the Legislature they will go first to the House and Senate for consideration there.
If the House and Senate don’t approve them, they would be forwarded to the November 2024 ballot for voters to decide. The House and Senate also have the option of submitting alternative measures that address the same topics to voters.
Walsh and Heywood say they have five more signature turn-in events planned for the month of December.
“Although Tim Eyman never managed to qualify this many initiatives to the ballot simultaneously during the years when his initiative factory was active, there was a time when his Oregon counterpart Bill Sizemore did, using millionaire Loren Parks’ money,” Villeneuve recalled. “And, happily, the opposition campaign to those measures was able to defeat them – yes, all of them – by uniting Oregonians behind the values of freedom, inclusion, justice, and broad prosperity. That’s the outcome we’ll be striving for in 2024 in Washington if Heywood and Walsh are successful in qualifying their slate of six initiatives.”
“Our team at NPI has decades of experience dealing with bad ballot measures, and we’ll put it all to work to ensure there is a vigorous and effective opposition campaign against these bad ideas. We in Washington State cannot afford to jeopardize the progress we’ve made towards goals like meeting our paramount duty of funding education, tackling our severe housing shortage, fighting climate damage, and making it easier to obtain healthcare.”