OLYMPIA… Under Washington’s constitution, initiatives to the Legislature are to have precedence over all other measures before lawmakers except spending bills. Sen. Perry Dozier today added an exclamation mark to that requirement by formally asking the chair of the Senate’s K-12 education committee to hold a hearing on Initiative 2081 “as soon as possible.”
I-2081, certified to the Legislature this past week by the secretary of state, would establish a wide-ranging parents’ bill of rights. Dozier, R-Waitsburg, is prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5024, a parental-rights bill that received a hearing before the same committee in 2023. After I-2081 was submitted for certification with more than 454,000 voter signatures, prior to the start of the 2024 legislative session, he decided against advocating for a committee vote on his measure this year.
“As you well know, I am a strong advocate for parental rights in our state,” he wrote to the committee chair, Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island. “After three years of running my parental rights bill, I chose to step back and allow the citizens of our state speak to this issue.
“With over 400,000 signatures signed onto Initiative 2081, I believe they have done just that.”
It is standard for lawmakers to formally request hearings on bills they introduce. Dozier, who serves on the education committee, said he took it upon himself to request a hearing on I-2081 because the measure is more detailed than his legislation, and a public hearing would allow for an informative and objective comparison.
“The constitutional language that puts priority on initiatives should be enough to get I-2081 a hearing,” he explained. “Also, this initiative also stands out from the others before us in that it would not repeal an unpopular tax or an unworkable public-safety policy. Instead, it is broadly about a more open approach to operating our public schools, and helping parents gain access to important information that is either inconvenient or seems impossible to get.
“I appreciated the hearing on my bill a year ago, in the spirit of connecting parents and schools in a more productive way, and to me I-2081 is worth some of the committee’s time as well. Hopefully the chair will grant my request.”
From Article II, Section I of the Washington Constitution: “Such initiative measures, whether certified or provisionally certified, shall take precedence over all other measures in the legislature except appropriation bills and shall be either enacted or rejected without change or amendment by the legislature before the end of such regular session.”