546,002 signatures submitted to repeal natural gas ban



‘Vote yes, pay less’ supporters exclaim about I-2066

John Ley 
for Clark County Today

In just seven weeks, 546,002 voter signatures were obtained to repeal the natural gas ban imposed by the Washington state legislature. 

“They thought it would be impossible,” said Brian Heywood, founder of Let’s Go Washington. He partnered with the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) in the effort that will put I-2066 on the November ballot. “Vote yes, pay less,” he told a cheering crowd of supporters in front of the Secretary of State office in Tumwater on Friday, July 5.

“It was truly exciting,” said Liz Cline, president of the Clark County Republican Women. She helped hold the “reveal” sign. “This is the people taking back control of their state,” she said. It wasn’t lost on the crowd that this was the day after Independence Day. One sign said “Happy Energy Independence Day!”

A volunteer handed out a quote from the state Constitution. “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

Greg Lane of the BIAW addresses the crowd of I-2066 supporters in front of the Secretary of State office in Tumwater. The initiative gathered the largest number of signatures in 50 years, he told people. Photo by John Ley
Greg Lane of the BIAW addresses the crowd of I-2066 supporters in front of the Secretary of State office in Tumwater. The initiative gathered the largest number of signatures in 50 years, he told people. Photo by John Ley

This citizens’ initiative joins six others that seek to reverse laws the state legislature passed in the last few years. Because they bypass the governor, the legislature can adopt them, making them law; or if they don’t then voters get the final say in November. 

The legislature passed three which became law in June. The people have restored Reasonable Police Pursuit, (I-2113); guaranteed No State Income Tax (I-2111); and guaranteed Parental Notification of what’s happening in their children’s schools (I-2081).

On the November ballot will be I-2117 to Stop The Hidden Gas Tax; I-2109 to Repeal The Capital Gains Tax, and I-2124 allowing people to Opt Out of State-Run Long Term Care Coverage Act. Now they will also be able to decide on repealing the natural gas ban via I-2066.

“People are tired of being gaslit and tired of Olympia imposing arbitrary regulations that make life more expensive and take away consumer choice,” Heywood said. “Perhaps these ill-thought-out regulations make the legislative elitists feel good about themselves, but back in the real world, people are hurting from the increased financial burden.”

“This is a monumental win for the people in their stand against government overreach,” Heywood added. He noted the legislature is taking more and more of the people’s money, and now they’re taking away people’s right to choose their energy source. “People get pissed off,” he said.

The 546,002 signatures collected was the largest number submitted on a citizen initiative in 50 years, it was reported. Heywood said the largest number was around 700,000 back in 1970. The legislature gave themselves a pay raise which the people rejected.

Greg Lane, executive director of the BIAW told Clark County Today that the cost of the natural gas ban is significant. It would add about $20,000 to the cost of new home construction. For existing homeowners, he said the cost to replace a gas furnace, hot water heater and stove could be between $40,000 and $70,000, depending on the amount of electrical work needed.

“Less than 20 percent of people can qualify for a mortgage now,” Lane noted. The government has priced so many people out of that opportunity for homeownership. “That’s why this issue is so passionate among voters,” he stated.

“When we were out collecting signatures, the intense reaction the Washingtonians had to a natural gas ban, their belief and support for maintaining energy choice across the state truly was just amazing to see,” Lane said. All people are negatively impacted by the ban, whether they own or rent their home or apartment. 

Brian Heywood and Vancouver’s Cemal Richards pose with a group of I-2066 supporters at the Sec. of State office. The sign reveals the 546,002 signatures gathered. Photo by John Ley
Brian Heywood and Vancouver’s Cemal Richards pose with a group of I-2066 supporters at the Sec. of State office. The sign reveals the 546,002 signatures gathered. Photo by John Ley

One citizen noted people are already paying higher utility rates due to the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), adding to their anger regarding energy prices. There have been five auctions so far under Washington’s CCA, raising nearly $2.4 billion, reports Geek Wire.

Lane stated our state contributes just two-tenths of one percent of the country’s carbon emissions. “What’s going to be the return for this $70,000 I’m going to have to pay to convert my house,” he asked.  

Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center says he expects the price gap between Oregon and Washington vehicle gas to remain close to 24 cents per gallon for the rest of the year as auction prices for CO2 permits remain near the minimum. Prior to the CCA being enacted, prices were roughly equal. 

“The fact that advocates of the CO2 tax have to play so many games to minimize the cost of their favored policy indicates they know the voters don’t think their climate policy is worth the cost,” he said.

Heywood noted his organization received an average of about 11,300 signatures a day. “That’s just an insane number,” he exclaimed. “Olympia did something that just pissed people off so much, right?” He believes the huge number of signatures was the people punching back at the legislature. 

His initiatives put legislative leadership on the defensive. “We forced them to pass three and put three more on the ballot. Now we have four on the ballot.”

His organization has over 800,000 names and addresses of registered voters in the state, perhaps as many as one million. During the recent legislative session, his organization communicated with these voters and he believes helped kill a huge increase in taxes. Democrats wanted to raise the annual tax increase allowed by law from 1 percent to 3 percent. Citizen outrage killed the effort.

The people in power in Olympia were tone deaf and arrogant, Heywood exclaimed. These initiatives are the people fighting back to reclaim their state. The voters will have their say in November. As Heywood said: “vote yes, pay less!”

Volunteers move boxes of I-2066 petitions from office steps to a cart for the Secretary of State office staff to begin validating signatures. This was the second largest number of signatures in the history of Washington. Photo by John Ley
Volunteers move boxes of I-2066 petitions from office steps to a cart for the Secretary of State office staff to begin validating signatures. This was the second largest number of signatures in the history of Washington. Photo by John Ley

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