Judge orders changes to bag ban ballot
December 10, 2013
By Peter Clark
King County Superior Court ordered changes to Issaquah’s bag ban ballot language Dec. 6.
Craig Keller, chairman of Save Our Choice, filed a petition with the court Nov. 15 to protest language he felt misrepresented the bag ban and would misinform voters.
Save Our Choice was the primary driver behind the circulation of a successful petition that ultimately led to the City Council’s decision for a February referendum on the matter and drafting of the ballot by City Attorney Wayne Tanaka.
Keller’s main complaint objected to language in the 71-word title saying the law applies only to “certain retail establishments,” bans “lightweight” bags and “encourages reusable bag use.”
He argued the law applies to all retail establishments, and the words “lightweight” and “encourages” does not appear in the law itself.
Tanaka, in his response to the petition, disagreed with Keller’s proposed changes.
“This appeal should be denied,” Tanaka wrote in his response. “The petitioner’s arguments are simply an attempt to insert his preferences into the ballot title. He has failed to prove that the ballot title is misleading or fails to appraise the voters of the measures being proposed.”
Judge Catherine Shaffer received oral arguments Dec. 6 and ruled in favor of a few of Keller’s complaints.
She changed wording to include all retail stores and added the word “minimum” to a description of charges for paper carryout bags.
“Not every improvement Save Our Choice advocated for was granted,” Keller wrote in an email. “Nevertheless, the court made important improvements today. Save Our Choice will simply deliver that extra knowledge to voters via that voters’ pamphlet.”
Tanaka said the judge’s ruling clarified what Issaquah voters needed to know.
“I’m satisfied with the judge’s changes,” he said in a phone interview. “I felt they were fairly minor. Now we know what the ballot is going to say.”
The special election for Issaquah voters to consider whether to continue a citywide ban on plastic bags is scheduled for Feb. 11.