Residents of Washington state engaged in over 200 initiatives in 2023, with each submission previously costing a mere $5. However, a significant shift has recently occurred, as reported by the Washington State Standard. The filing fee has undergone a substantial increase to $156, marking the first adjustment in over a century. 

Secretary of State Steve Hobbs Leads Initiative Fee Adjustment 

Steve Hobbs, serving as the Washington Secretary of State, achieved what lawmakers had struggled to accomplish for two decades: a hike in the initiative filing fee. The fee, stagnant at $5 for over a century, has now been revised to $156 to align with inflationary trends. Hobbs envisions future adjustments to be linked to the federal inflation rate, considering the surge in initiative filings in recent years and the consequent escalation in state costs, despite many initiatives remaining inactive. 

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Financial Implications and Rationale Behind Fee Adjustment 

Filing an initiative imposes financial burdens on various state offices, including the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Code Reviser offices, all ultimately borne by taxpayers. Hobbs underscores the importance of participatory democracy while underscoring the adverse effects of maintaining an artificially low filing fee. 

Immediate and Scheduled Fee Implementation 

The fee adjustment comes into immediate effect for initiatives directed at the Legislature. However, adjustments for initiatives directed at the people and referendum measures will take effect in January. This move by Hobbs could potentially impact prolific initiative promoters such as Tim Eyman, known for submitting numerous initiative versions in hopes of increasing passage probabilities. 

Divergent Views on Fee Increase 

Andrew Villeneuve, founder of the Northwest Progressive Institute, voiced support for the fee hike, likening elections to other public services and emphasizing the necessity of financial backing for initiative filings. Conversely, Tim Eyman has contested the legality of the fee change. Nonetheless, Hobbs remains confident that the $156 fee won't pose a significant obstacle for individuals dedicated to utilizing the initiative process for policy enactment via the ballot. 


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