In Washington state, the people face a constitutional crisis. The current Governor has abused
lawful emergency powers that the people have granted him in statute—and those abuses have a
damaging effect on all three branches of government. The courts have fumbled their opportunity
to offer a constitutional resolution to the crisis. The legislature has failed in its duty to be a check
and balance on the executive branch’s bad actions.
But there is some good news: The people of Washington can fix what’s broken in their state.
The Project to Restore Washington is a collection of eleven initiatives to the legislature which
will re-establish constitutional separation of powers to state government, reduce crime and
violence on our streets, empower families to demand more of public schools, require
transparency and accountability in state government, protect middle-class homeowners and give
ALL Washingtonians meaningful tax relief.
An initiative to the legislature is a lesser-known version of the better-known initiative to the
people. Under Washington law, both types of initiative start out the same way: They must be
drafted and submitted to the WA Secretary of State. They are reviewed and properly formatted
by the state’s Office of the Code Reviser. Then, they are forwarded to the WA State Attorney
General’s Office, which gives them titles and ballot descriptions. Once all of that is completed,
supporters can gather signatures of registered Washington voters to qualify the initiatives for
further consideration. If enough signatures are gathered—the current qualifying threshold is
approximately 360,000 signatures, but successful campaigns try to collect 400,000 to allow for
duplicates and accidental out-of-state signers, etc.—the two types go forward along different
Initiatives to the people proceed to the ballot at the next general election, where the people vote
Initiatives to the legislature proceed to Capitol in Olympia, where the legislature takes over
during the next regular session. If the legislature approves the initiatives by simple majorities,
they become law. Without the Governor’s signature and NOT subject to a Governor’s veto. That
part is critical: The Governor can’t stop an initiative to the legislature from becoming law.
If the legislature fails to approve the initiatives (or if it tries to amend the initiatives), the
initiatives then go to the people for a vote at the next general election.
Right now, the eleven initiatives to the legislature that make up the Project to Restore
Washington are at the signature-gathering stage. The people have until December of this year to
collect the qualifying signatures. Here’s a quick list of the eleven, which fall into three basic
I-1474: Restore Police Pursuit. “Don’t let the bad guys get away!” Fixes the recent laws
that dangerously restrict front-line WA law enforcement officers’ ability to chase
I-1510: Make Hard Drugs Illegal Again. “There’s nothing compassionate about overdose
deaths.” Fixes the state supreme court’s flawed “Blake” decision, which effectively
decriminalized drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl.
I-1512: Keep Guns Away from Criminals. “Prosecute criminals, not law-abiding
citizens.” Narrows application of recent state gun-control laws to apply to felons and
other “disqualified” people—instead of law-abiding citizens.
Cost of Living
I-1475: Trim Sales Tax 1%. “Keep more of your own money!” A broad reform to the
state’s most regressive tax. Lowers it, without creating major hardship on the state’s
I-1508: Cut State Gas Tax by 24.7 Cents a Gallon. “Save money when you fill up.” A
targeted reduction in the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel. Structured so that there’s no
negative effect on the state’s road/bridge maintenance.
I-1509: Property Tax Exemption of $250,000. “Make home ownership more affordable
for everyone.” A modest tax reform that helps seniors stay in their homes and makes
property tax calculations more equitable for all Washingtonians.
I-1491: Repeal the Capital Gains Income Tax. “There is no greed worse than government
greed.” A clear resolution to the debate—currently in the courts—over this
constitutionally-dubious new tax.
Good (Transparent) Government
I-1480: Emergency Powers Limit (30 Days). “Emergency Powers shouldn’t last forever.”
To many Washingtonians, the most important reform in the bunch. Rational limits on the
WA Governor’s emergency powers.
I-1495: K-12 Curriculum Transparency. “Our kids’ education should not be secret.” A
first step toward restoring parents’ and families’ authority over what their kids are being
taught. And a first step toward greater accountability from our school system.
I-1502: Electoral College Reform. “Make Washington state’s presidential vote matter!”
For presidential elections only. A switch from a winner-takes-all method of awarding
WA’s electoral college votes to a proportional method.
I-1505: WA Voter Protection Act. “A bi-partisan review of all election results.” A first
step toward restoring election integrity in WA. Defines an “election audit” in state law
and requires that audits be performed after every election.
Call it a platform. Call it a “Contract with Washington.” Call it anything you like. It’s a
common-sense list of needed reforms that every legislative candidate in Washington should
support. Demand that they do!
You, as a citizen, don’t need to support all eleven policy points to support the Project. You can
support some…you can support one…and still get involved. Each of the eleven initiatives needs
to collect 400,000 signatures by the end of this calendar year. So, there’s a lot of work to do. The
Project is a grassroots movement, with many groups working together in support. Three of those
Restore WA (restorewashington.org),
WA State Tea Room (wastatetearoom.com) and
Let’s Go Washington! (letsgowashington.com).
Get in touch with any of those groups to find out how you can help most effectively.
The Project to Restore Washington can fix what’s broken in this state. It gives the people of
Washington positive change they can support—and a clear standard for measuring the
performance of their elected officials. Article 1, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution
reads: “All political power in inherent in the people.” We’ve wandered too far away from that.
The Governor has failed. The state courts have failed. The legislative majorities and leadership
have failed. But I believe that the people will succeed.
Jim Walsh represents Washington’s 19 th Legislative District in Olympia. He is ranking member
on the House Judiciary Committee and assistant ranking member on two other committees: K-12
Education and State Government/Tribal Affairs. He also serves