For the first time in a long time — a very long time — the Washington State House and State Senate have adopted into law an initiative submitted by the people to the Legislature under the process outlined in Article II of the State Constitution, rather than taking no action on the measure and letting it go to the voters.
By a vote of fifty-five to forty-three, De-Escalate Washington’s I-940 (concerning law enforcement) was adopted in the House. Not long after, it was adopted in the Senate on a party-line vote of twenty-five to twenty-four.
In advance of the vote on I-940, the Legislature passed a compromise bill negotiated by lawmakers, De-Escalate Washington, and representatives of the state’s law enforcement community that will supersede I-940. That bill, ESHB 3003, passed the House and Senate earlier today and was signed into law by Governor Inslee a few minutes before the Legislature took up I-940.
Here’s what this all means:
- Washingtonians may not be voting on Initiative 940 this November.
- The changes to state law sought by the De-Escalate Washington coalition (which included NPI) will take effect many months sooner than if the initiative had gone to the ballot and been approved by voters.
- Prosecutors will soon no longer have to prove that a police officer acted “without malice” to bring a case for improper, unjust use of deadly force.
Research by NPI last year found 69% of voters surveyed were in support of Initiative 940. More recently, a poll conducted on behalf of the De-Escalate Washington coalition found 68% of respondents in support of I-940.
I presented our findings to the House and Senate’s joint hearing on I-940 last month, chaired by my own State Representative Roger Goodman.
The roll calls by the Senate on approval of both I-940 and ESHB 3003 were identical and along party lines. The Senate roll call vote for I-940 is below.
Senate vote on 3rd Reading & Final Passage
Yeas: 25; Nays: 24
Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Dhingra, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Mullet, Nelson, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman
Voting Nay: Senators Angel, Bailey, Baumgartner, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fain, Fortunato, Hawkins, Honeyford, King, Miloscia, O’Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson, Zeiger
The roll call by the House of Representatives on I-940 was as follows:
House vote on Final Passage
Yeas: 55; Nays: 43
Voting Yea: Representative Appleton, Bergquist, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Doglio, Dolan, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Hayes, Hudgins, Jinkins, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Lovick, Lytton, Macri, McBride, Morris, Nealey, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stanford, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Wylie, Mr. Speaker
Voting Nay: Representative Barkis, Blake, Buys, Caldier, Chandler, Condotta, DeBolt, Dent, Dye, Eslick, Graves, Hargrove, Harmsworth, Harris, Holy, Irwin, Jenkin, Johnson, Kraft, Kretz, Kristiansen, MacEwen, Manweller, Maycumber, McCabe, McCaslin, McDonald, Muri, Orcutt, Pike, Rodne, Schmick, Shea, Stambaugh, Steele, Stokesbary, Taylor, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Young
The vote in the House was not along party lines.
Democratic Representative Brian Blake voted nay, while Republicans Brad Klippert, Terry Nealey, Larry Haler, Dan Griffey, Dave Hayes, and Norma Smith joined the remaining Democratic members of the House in support of the initiative.
Yesterday, the House passed ESHB 3003 (the compromise successor bill) with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. The roll call on the bill was as follows.
Yeas: 73 Nays: 25
Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Bergquist, Blake, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Dent, Doglio, Dolan, Dye, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Harmsworth, Harris, Hayes, Holy, Hudgins, Jenkin, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Kraft, Kristiansen, Lovick, Lytton, MacEwen, Macri, Manweller, McBride, McDonald, Morris, Nealey, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stanford, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Wylie, Chopp
Voting Nay: Representatives Barkis, Buys, Caldier, Chandler, Condotta, DeBolt, Graves, Hargrove, Irwin, Kretz, Maycumber, McCabe, McCaslin, Muri, Orcutt, Pike, Rodne, Shea, Stambaugh, Steele, Stokesbary, Taylor, Walsh, Wilcox, Young
“Today, in a historic move, the Washington State Legislature took our policy – Initiative 940 and passed it into law!” said SEIU’s Chris Lampkin in a message addressed to coalition members. “It would not have been possible without you – family, volunteers, activists, tribal members and community supporters to get this law passed six months earlier than if we passed it at the ballot.”
“We gathered over 360,000 signatures for Initiative 940 to be considered by the Legislature, raised over $1.3 million dollars and told the stories of our families and friends who have lost loved ones. We demanded that our voices be heard!”
“Our campaign has been always about “building bridges between community and police.” We were hopeful that, because of the power of our movement, legislators and law enforcement officers would work with us in order to pass I-940 sooner rather than later – and they did!”
“The De-Escalate Washington team worked together with legislators and law enforcement to pass a bill House Bill 3003 that strengthens and clarifies some of the language I-940 and upholds the principles and values of saving lives and making everyone in our community safer.”
The coalition notes that I-940’s successor ESHB 3003 will do the following:
- Eliminates the de-facto immunity for when an officer unjustly uses deadly force and puts in place a more clear and concise definition of good faith as an objective standard.
- Puts in place measures so that law enforcement agencies will be accountable if they fail to provide training to officers.
- Provides clarification that first aid to those injured due to police action should have access to first aid at the earliest safe opportunity.
- Shines a light that the de-escalation tactics and less lethal alternatives are a part of decision-making when considering to use deadly force .
- Clarifies the timeline for notification of Tribes if a Tribal member is killed to ensure enough time for important cultural ceremonies and rituals.
- Ensures that community stakeholders will be at the table to help craft the new training and accountability measures.
“Your stories and hard work helped us qualify I-940 and showed the power of our movement – that when we stand united, families and communities are a force to be reckoned with,” Lampkin added. “Congratulations to all of us on this historic win for everyone in our communities!”
“Tonight’s actions regarding I-940 are incredibly meaningful examples of what happens when people choose to open their mind, to listen and to compromise,” said Governor Jay Inslee in a statement. “De-Escalate Washington overcame the odds and brought this initiative to the Legislature, and I want to thank them for bringing a voice that many felt had gone unheard for too long.”
“During this legislative session, De-Escalate Washington, many in the law enforcement community, and a bipartisan group of legislators came together to make tremendous progress on an issue that has divided so many communities across our country. I met with many from these groups earlier tonight and thanked them for coming together and working hard to finding true compromise.”
“Tonight’s passage avoids politicization of an emotional issue, and I hope will bring meaningful change, progress and healing. My belief is, and I heard from many tonight, that this should be the beginning of ongoing meaningful dialogue to keep this conversation moving forward toward a safer Washington for all.”
“Thank you again to Representatives Goodman, Hayes, Senators Frockt, Pedersen, and all those involved in tonight’s passage.”
Four families who have lost loved ones said in a news release that the Legislature’s action will help dispel divisions between Washington’s people and law enforcement. Here are their statements on tonight’s votes.
Puyallup Tribal member Lisa Earl lost her daughter Jacqueline Salyers in January 2016. Lisa and the Puyallup Tribe have worked tirelessly on this issue. “I want to thank the legislators for passing this now and especially want to thank the law enforcement community for coming forward to work with us. This is such an important step towards building bridges between communities and the police.”
The family of Leonard Thomas has been working closely with the De-Escalate Washington campaign since last summer. Leonard was unarmed when he was shot by police in 2013.
“There are not enough words to describe how grateful we are. We believe this will save lives. Making the law effective in June instead of December will make a difference for everyone.”
Marilyn Covarrubias has been a fierce advocate for the passage of I-940. Marilyn’s son Daniel was killed by Lakewood police in April 2015. “This issue is so important for the families who have been personally impacted by police violence. Today is an historic day and will start the healing process for families, for communities, and for law enforcement.”
Andre Taylor has been working to address issues related to police practices and police use of force since his brother Che Taylor was killed by Seattle police in February 2016.
“My family knows this won’t bring my brother back. What it will do is make the future safer for our community.”
NPI congratulates the Legislature and everyone involved in making tonight’s votes happen. This is a triumph. It’s a demonstration of the incredible good that can be wrought from a convergence of the initiative process and the legislative process.
We know there are some, particularly on the Republican side of the aisle, who believe that the adoption of ESHB 3003 amounts to an end-run around the Constitution. Some of the people making this argument have previously supported, — with gusto — Tim Eyman initiatives that were blatantly unconstitutional and later ruled to be unconstitutional, so we find their objections very curious indeed.
We would point out to those individuals that I-940 was in fact adopted by the Legislature without amendment as the Constitution requires, and that ESHB 3003 is a separate piece of legislation that was voted on independently.
Those who believe the Legislature acted unconstitutionally always have the freedom to file a lawsuit and bring the matter before our courts for interpretation. But given that ESHB 3003 is compromise legislation intended to avert the need for expensive pro and con campaigns this November across our state on a sensitive issue, leaving well enough alone would be in everyone’s best interest.