Suit filed over $505 million bond measure language

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business filed suit Monday in Thurston County Superior Court to change how a $505 million bond measure will be described for voters on the November ballot.

The proposed measure asks voters to back the bond sale to pay for energy-saving retrofits and other modernization projects at public schools, colleges and universities.

In its legal filing, the business group contends the Legislature omitted a key piece of information: that a temporary sales tax on bottled water would be made permanent by voters in order to pay off the bonds.

“We’re just asking the court to amend the ballot title, which is its prerogative, in order to include this detail,” said Kris Tefft, the group’s general counsel. “The ballot measure language should be straightforward, informational and free from political speculation.”

Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, sponsored the bond measure and wrote this language for the ballot:

“The legislature has passed Engrossed House Bill No. 2561 (this act), concerning job creation through energy efficiency projects in school buildings. This bill would promote job creation by authorizing bonds to construct energy efficiency savings improvements to schools, including higher education buildings.”

The Association of Washington Business proposed the court use this description:

“The legislature has passed Engrossed House Bill No. 2561 concerning funding energy efficiency projects in schools and raising taxes therefor. This bill would authorize bonds to finance energy efficiency improvements in schools and higher education buildings, and make the sales tax on bottled water permanent.”

A hearing is set for May 28.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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