TUMWATER, Wash., December 13, 2023—Citizen’s action group, Let’s Go Washington, announced on December 12, that it has surpassed the signature threshold to submit Initiative 2081, that if enacted into law, will establish Washington state’s first Parental Bill of Rights.
According to the group, 423,399 signatures were turned into the Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday. Upon the successful completion of signature validation, the Secretary of State’s Office will certify I-2081 for the Legislature in its 2024 session to take one of the following actions:
- Adopt the initiative as proposed resulting in it becoming law without a vote of the people;
- Reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative resulting in it being placed on the November 5, 2023, General Election ballot; or
- Propose a different measure dealing with the same subject where both measures will be placed on the November 5, 2023, General Election ballot.
Key elements of the Parental Bill of Rights initiative are that parents:
- Are the primary stakeholders of their child’s involvement, upbringing, and achievement
- Have the right to know what their children are being taught and access their child’s public school records including health, counseling, discipline and attendance
- Have the right to receive prior notification when medical services, treatment and/or medication are being offered to their child
- Have the right to immediate notification of criminal activity involving their child, including questioning by law enforcement except in cases of parental abuse and/or neglect
- Have the right to be notified if their child is removed from a public school campus without parental permission
- Be assured their child’s public school will not discriminate against their child based upon the sincerely held religious beliefs
- Have the right to opt their child out of certain school activities, assignments, school instruction, and evaluations
Supporters of the bill argue for the growing guarantee for parents to know what their children are being introduced and taught in schools, be empowered to proactively intervene in their child’s development, and safeguard their child’s religious upbringing.
The initiative comes just months after the Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 5599 that was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on May 9, 2023. Opponents to the bill, introduced and sponsored by Senator Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo), are critical that the state now authorizes youth-related facilities to withhold the whereabouts of runaway children from their parents.
During a townhall in Edmonds on March 18, when asked if parents have ownership of their child, Senator Liias shared that the state must pass legislation to protect and afford rights to minors.
On March 24, 2023, the United States House of Representatives passed the Parents Bill of Rights Act in a 213-208 vote mostly along party lines. The bill is similar I-2081 but also includes child privacy protections. The federal bill is currently stalled in the Senate and the Biden Administration does not support it according to USA Today.
The Washington State Democrat Party has come under fire for impeding the initiative process by actively campaigning to dissuade voters from signing not only I-2081 but the other four statewide initiatives by Let’s Go Washington.
“The extreme Washington GOP is teaming up with the mega-rich to pass a set of ballot initiatives that would hurt working Washingtonians,” a post reads by the Washington State Democratic Party on X.
🚨The extreme Washington GOP is teaming up with the mega-rich to pass a set of ballot initiatives that would hurt working Washingtonians. Three ways you can help:
1) Decline to sign
2) Spread the word
2) Call the hotline, (425) 553-2175, to report signature gatherers
Read on: pic.twitter.com/sWDcRvksfa
— Washington Democrats (@washdems) December 5, 2023
The post went on to encourage members to report locations of signature gatherers, who, have shared with media are being harassed and now concerned for their safety.
On November 21, Let’s Go Washington submitted 418,399 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office to repeal provisions of the Washington Climate Commitment Act, also known as Cap-and-Invest, passed by the legislature in 2021. The citizens action group, led by Brian Heywood, is currently collecting signatures on four remaining statewide initiatives which are:
- I-2113: Reasonable Police Pursuit
- I-2124: Opt Out Of State-Run Long Term Care Coverage Act
- I-2109: Repeal the Capital Gains Tax
- I-2111: No State Income Tax
Residents can sign any or all petitions at one of over 150 locations across the state. In Snohomish County, those locations are the following:
- Family Policy Institute, 16108 Ash Way #107, Lynnwood, WA, 425-608-0242
- Pulse for Health, North Kelsey Street, Monroe, WA
- Sound Loan, Wetmore Ave, Everett, WA
The team at Let’s Go Washington are confident they will get all six statewide initiatives on the November ballot saying that these issues are popular with Washingtonians. The group’s deadline to turn in signatures for the remaining five initiatives is December 29, 2023.