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News / Clark County News

State initiative filing fee increased to $156

It was $5 for century; Secretary of State Hobbs cites ‘reality of inflation’

By Dylan Jefferies, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 12, 2024, 6:03am

On Saturday, Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State increased the filing fee for voter-submitted ballot proposals — called initiatives — from $5 to $156, according to a news release.

The filing fee has remained static for more than a century, despite inflation.

“This overdue adjustment recognizes the reality of inflation on cost structures universally,” Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said in the news release. “The expenses generated in multiple state agencies for processing each and every filing of a potential ballot measure are not what they used to be in 1913, and our fee structure must reflect that.”

Keeping the fee artificially low has unintended consequences, according to Hobbs.

“Many more ballot measures are filed now and never seriously pursued,” he said. “The outdated fee structure may have made that a low-cost exercise for the filers. At the same time, receiving hundreds of filings that don’t cover their own costs has driven government expenses upward.”

Between 1912 and 2024, the Secretary of State’s Office received 3,737 filings for initiatives. More than 60 percent of those were filed after 2012. In 2022 alone, 271 initiatives were filed, and more than half of those were filed by the same two people, according to the news release.