Washington Federation of State Employees v. State

Decision Date31 August 1995
Docket NumberNo. 62082-2,62082-2
Citation901 P.2d 1028,127 Wn.2d 544
CourtWashington Supreme Court
Parties, 150 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2305, 103 Ed. Law Rep. 465 WASHINGTON FEDERATION OF STATE EMPLOYEES; et al., Appellants, v. The STATE of Washington and Citizens for Fair Campaign Financing, Respondents.

Marion Leach, Swanson, Parr & Cordes, Robert Spaulding, Edward Younglove, Harriet Strasberg, Olympia, for appellants.

Daniel Ritter, Seattle, Christine Gregoire, Attorney General, Thomas Holcomb, Asst., Roselyn Marcus, Asst., Olympia, for respondent.

MADSEN, Justice.

At issue is the constitutionality of section 26 of Initiative 134, a campaign reform measure adopted by the voters in 1992. Section 26 repealed former RCW 41.04.230(7), which authorized voluntary state employee pay deductions for registered political committees. On Respondents' motion for summary judgment, the trial court found section 26 constitutional. We conclude that Const. art. 2, § 19, which requires that legislation embrace no more than one subject and that subject be expressed in the title, applies to initiative measures, but that Section 26 is valid under art. 2, § 19. However, as to contracts existing at the time Initiative 134 was adopted, and which are encompassed by the parties' stipulated facts, Section 26 constitutes an unconstitutional impairment of contracts in violation of Const. art. 1, § 23. We reverse.

Respondent Citizens for Fair Campaign Financing (Citizens) is a public interest citizens group which sponsored and helped draft Initiative 134. After sufficient signatures were collected the initiative was submitted to the Secretary of State, who submitted it to the Attorney General for ballot title drafting pursuant to RCW 29.79.040. The measure was then included in the 1992 general election.

The ballot title stated the purpose of the measure as: "Shall campaign contributions be limited; public funding of state and local campaigns be prohibited; and campaign related activities be restricted?" Clerk's Papers, at 81, 85. The measure contained a number of provisions relating to contributions to campaigns for state offices. Section 26 of the initiative repealed RCW 41.04.230(7), which authorized state employees to have voluntary payroll deductions contributed to registered political committees. RCW 41.04.230(7) was enacted after this court's decision that absent statutory authority, such deductions were unlawful. Washington Educ. Ass'n v. Smith, 96 Wash.2d 601, 606, 638 P.2d 77 (1981). Initiative 134 was adopted in the November 3, 1992, general election by a 72 percent margin.

On November 30, 1992, the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE), the Washington Education Association (WEA), and individual civil service and academic employees filed suit against the State of Washington seeking a declaratory judgment that section 26 of the initiative is unconstitutional and unlawful, injunctive relief, and costs and attorney fees. By agreed order, Citizens was permitted to intervene as an intervenor/defendant. 1

WFSE is the exclusive bargaining representative for approximately 68 bargaining units composed of over 23,000 employees, some 20,000 members of which are civil service employees of the State of Washington. Approximately 2,300 of these members contributed through payroll deduction to WFSE's national affiliate's political committee (PEOPLE). Total contributions amounted to approximately $100,000 per year, with individual contributions averaging $1.90 per pay period (twice a month).

WEA has members who are academic employees of the State's community colleges. Approximately 700 academic employees contributed to WEA's political action committee (PULSE). Some of these employees also contributed by payroll deduction to NEA-PAC, WEA's national affiliate's political action committee.

Based on an order entered December 7, 1992, the State agreed to continue making payroll deductions for state employees who were members of WFSE and WEA. This order was continued until March 22, 1993, and again continued pending further proceedings.

Both sides moved for summary judgment based upon stipulated facts and appendices. The parties stipulated that "[s]ubsequent to the adoption of [former] RCW 41.04.230(7), some labor organizations have entered into collective bargaining agreements with employers, authorizing that employer specifically to make payroll deductions to political action committees". Clerk's Papers, at 29. An "example" of such an agreement was submitted to the trial court.

According to affidavits of individual employees/members of WFSE and WEA, individual contributors to PEOPLE, NEA-PAC, and PULSE would cease to or likely "would not" contribute to political committees if the payroll deduction process were eliminated. Clerk's Papers, at 35, 44, 48, 52. According to affidavits, the payroll deduction procedure is convenient, unlike direct yearly, half-yearly, or quarterly lump-sum contributions which are too difficult, impractical, and expensive.

On July 7, 1993, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Respondents the State and Citizens, and dismissed Plaintiffs' complaint, ruling that Const. art. 2, § 19, the single subject/title provision of the state constitution, does not apply to initiatives, that section 26 of Initiative 134 does not impair existing contracts, that Appellants WEA, WFSE, and the individual state employees failed to file for relief under RCW 29.79.040 within the required time period and therefore could not challenge the ballot title under that statute, and that Initiative 134 is valid. Also on July 7, 1993, the court entered an order staying enforcement of the decision.

WFSE, WEA, and the individual employees appealed. On September 13, 1993, the Court of Appeals entered an agreed restraining order obligating the State to continue the deductions, pending conclusion of this appeal, and to deposit them in a blocked account with a monthly accounting to Respondents and no withdrawals except by agreement or court order. WEA elected not to continue the deductions pending appeal.

This court accepted certification of the appeal from the Court of Appeals.


This matter is here on appeal from summary judgment, which is properly granted if there are no material issues of fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. An appellate court reviews a grant of summary judgment de novo. Havens v. C & D Plastics, Inc., 124 Wash.2d 158, 176-77, 876 P.2d 435 (1994).

Article 2, Section 19

Const. art. 2, § 19 provides that "[n]o bill shall embrace more than one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title". Appellants argue that Section 26's purpose is not embraced within the ballot title of Initiative 134, and accordingly Section 26 is unconstitutional and should be stricken.

Initially, the parties dispute whether Const. art. 2, § 19 applies to initiative measures. In 1951, the court held that Const. art. 2, § 19 does not apply to initiatives. Senior Citizens League, Inc. v. Department of Social Sec., 38 Wash.2d 142, 172, 228 P.2d 478 (1951). A majority of the court, however, later rejected that holding in Fritz v. Gorton, 83 Wash.2d 275, 517 P.2d 911, appeal dismissed, 417 U.S. 902, 94 S.Ct. 2596, 41 L.Ed.2d 208 (1974), wherein six Justices concluded that the analysis in Senior Citizens was incorrect and that its holding should be overturned. Fritz, at 328-42, 517 P.2d 911 (Rosellini, J., dissenting, joined by Hunter, J.); Fritz, at 315-16, 517 P.2d 911 (Utter, J., concurring, joined by Justices Stafford and Brachtenbach); Fritz, at 316, 517 P.2d 911 (Hamilton, J., concurring in Justice Utter's concurrence).

Justice Rosellini reasoned that amendment 7, which established the initiative right, was an amendment to Const. art. 2, which concerns legislative authority, and therefore the provisions of article 2, including section 19, are applicable to both the legislative and initiative processes. Simply stated, "[a] bill is a draft of a law to be enacted by the legislature or by the electors via the initiative process". Fritz, at 330, 517 P.2d 911 (Rosellini, J., dissenting). He also pointed out that a majority of courts in other jurisdictions had held provisions similar to Const. art. 2, § 19 applicable to initiatives. Fritz, at 330-32, 517 P.2d 911 (Rosellini, J., dissenting).

Examining the bases for Const. art. 2, § 19, the dissent concluded the policies underlying the provision also apply to initiatives: to provide notice of the contents of the legislation, and to prevent hodgepodge or logrolling legislation. Fritz, at 332-33, 517 P.2d 911. The dissent particularly emphasized the danger of logrolling, generally described as the "the practice of drafting and submitting a bill to the legislature in such a form that a legislator is required to vote for something of which he disapproves in order to obtain approval of another unrelated law". Fritz, at 333, 517 P.2d 911 (Rosellini, J., dissenting) (quoting State v. Waggoner, 80 Wash.2d 7, 9, 490 P.2d 1308 (1971)).

The requirement that all legislative proposals include no more than one subject is consistent with basic democratic principles. The requirement is designed to present clear legislative proposals to the legislature or the public and forestall the combining of issues so that ones with minimal public support are not adopted merely because they are attached to popular proposals.

Fritz, at 335, 517 P.2d 911 (Rosellini, J., dissenting). Further, the requirement forestalls combining two proposals, neither of which has majority support, as a tactic by legislators or initiative petitioners to obtain passage of both. Fritz, at 336, 517 P.2d 911 (Rosellini, J., dissenting). See also State ex rel. Jones v. Charboneau's, 27 Wash.App. 5, 615 P.2d 1321 (holding that Const. art. 2, § 19 does apply to initiatives), review denied, 94 Wash.2d 1021 (1980). Because six members of the court in Fritz agreed that the constitutional...

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