April 2, 2018
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AWB files challenge to I-1631 ballot title

Citing the importance of transparency with voters, the Association of Washington Business last week filed a ballot title challenge to Initiative 1631, calling for a “pollution fee” on Washington residents and employers.

The official I-1631 ballot title, issued by the Attorney General, fails to mention several important elements of the measure including the new, unelected board it would create and that the carbon tax it creates would rise every year plus inflation. The title also uses the imprecise term “pollution fee” to describe what AWB argues is in fact a price on carbon emissions.

AWB has not taken a position on I-1631 but believes it’s important the ballot title and summary accurately reflect the measure.

If successful, I-1631 would charge Washington residents and employers a beginning price of $15 per metric ton of carbon emissions, with the fee rising $2 (approximately 2 cents per gallon) annually plus inflation. It would also create a new layer of government by establishing an unelected oversight board made up of people from different interest groups to decide where and how to spend the revenue. The board would be given wide latitude over how to spend the money, making it unclear exactly how it would be used.

“We think it’s important that voters who are asked to sign the petition for I-1631 know what they’re signing,” said AWB President Kris Johnson. “This is about transparency. Voters have the right to know that I-1631 will set a price on carbon emissions, that it will go up every year and that a new, unelected group of people representing different interest groups will be the ones deciding how and where to spend the money it generates, not their elected officials.”

I-1631 proponents filed the initiative with the Secretary of State’s Office earlier this month. After reviewing it, the Attorney General’s Office issued the official title last week. Backers must submit approximately 250,000 signatures by July 6 to place the initiative on the November ballot.

The Daily Sun News was among the news outlets covering the story.

For more on this and other potential developments in the proposed carbon initiative, contact Mary Catherine McAleer, AWB government affairs director for environmental policy.

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