RCW 42.17 was recodified to RCW 42.17A effective January 1, 2012 (see the recodification cross-reference table). For this interpretation see:
RCW 42.17.090 = 42.17A.240

PDC Interpretation

 

 

 

 

APPROVAL DATE:

 

June 25, 1991

 

NUMBER:

 

91-02

 

 

 

 

STATUS:

New

SUPERSEDES:

None

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

RCW 42.17.090

APPROVED BY:

The Commission

 

 

 

 

SEE ALSO:

 

Legal Fees Related to Placing, or Not Placing, a Proposition on the Ballot

 

 

Statement #1

 

Expenditures made by a person or political committee to place a measure on a ballot, to influence the wording of a ballot title or to require that a government agency place a measure on the ballot are campaign expenditures reportable under RCW 42.17.

 

Statement #2

 

Expenditures made by a government agency to defend its official actions related to whether or not a measure should be placed on a ballot or to the wording of a ballot title are not reportable as campaign expenditures.

 

Discussion:  The proponents of a proposed ballot measure are clearly acting to support or advance that measure when they take an action to require that it be placed before the voters.  It is also in their interest to have the measure stated in terms most favorable to them.  The proponents, therefore, have discretion in the action they take regarding the issue.  They are also not closely bound by law in the range of actions they may take.

 

The government agency, on the other hand, is closely regulated by law in its actions regarding measures that are presented to it.  It first of all is expected to remain neutral in its approach to ballot proposals.  The way in which a measure is processed is specified and the government is given little leeway in its actions.  If a government agency takes an official action (e.g. to write a ballot title or to refuse to place a measure on a ballot) it must be assumed that the agency is acting in good faith.  If the government action is challenged, the agency then has little or no discretion in whether to defend its action.  Thus, while the agency’s act may serve the ultimate end of opposing a ballot proposal, since the agency lacks discretion in the situation, it has not made a campaign expenditure as envisioned by RCW 42.17.

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