In a petition filed on November 15, Mr. Craig Keller of Save Our Choice, challenged the ballot title that the City Council approved on October 21 for the newly qualified citizen’s initiative to “REPEAL of Plastic Bag Ban and Forced Bag Charge”. The citizen’s initiative is on the February 11, 2014 ballot. Save Our Choice objected to certain wording in the ballot title and description because they were ambiguous or were words of advocacy that could generate voter prejudice during balloting on the citizen’s initiative ordinance.
On 6 December, 2013, King County Superior Court Honorable Judge Catherine Shaffer heard oral argument from Save Our Choice Petitioner Craig Keller and Issaquah City Attorney Mr. Wayne Tanaka.
“Not every improvement Save Our Choice advocated for was granted. Nevertheless the court made important improvements today,” expressed title challenger and initiative sponsor Craig Keller.
“Judge Shaffer quickly ruled the word “certain” removed to shield voters from false impression that the Issaquah Council may not have imposed its ban upon any less than 100% of Issaquah retail. After all, the law states ‘no retail establishment in the City…shall provide a disposable plastic carryout bag to any customer.’ Judge Shaffer assured that what voters read on their ballot next February will be equally unequivocal.
“Next, Judge Shaffer inserted ‘minimum’ prior to “5 cent” to assure that the ballot title accurately reflected the current law’s mandate of a paper bag charge of ‘not less than 5 cents.’ This correction is important also in light of at least one Issaquah store now charging 10 cents per bag.
“Finally, in ordering “other reusable bags” the Court gave a nod to the undeniable truth that bags of every composition are reusable – and not exclusively those of the Council’s tortured definition.
The modified ballot title and description are listed below:
Statement of Subject:
This initiative ordinance to the council of the City of Issaquah, Washington deals with retail carryout bags.
Concise Description (Max. 75 words, Now 73 words):
Currently, City law prohibits certain retail establishments from providing lightweight plastic carryout bags to customers, requires a minimum 5 cent charge for paper carryout bags, and encourages use of other reusable bags. The proposed initiative ordinance would repeal this law. In addition, the proposed initiative ordinance would require future regulations of retail carryout bags be approved by a majority vote of the City Council and a majority vote of the citizens at an election.
Should this initiative ordinance be enacted into law?
Mr. Craig Keller, co-founder of Save Our Choice in Issaquah Washington, who is the sponsor of the citizens’ initiative “REPEAL of Plastic Bag Ban and Forced Bag Charge” acted as his own attorney and successfully challenged the City of Issaquah and the city attorney, in what could be described as a modern day “David versus Goliath” story. Even though a lot of hard work went into getting the bag ban on the ballot, a lot of hard work remains to convince voters to reject the bag ban and bag fees in the upcoming February 11, 2014 ballot.
- Issaquah bag-ban foe goes to court over ballot language (seattletimes.com)