Skip to main content

Originally published Monday, November 18, 2013 at 5:33 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments (9)
  • Print

Issaquah bag-ban foe goes to court over ballot language

Craig Keller, sponsor of an initiative to repeal Issaquah’s plastic-bag ban, seeks a court order to change the language on the February ballot.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
Nothing like having a lawyer or accountant muddy up a topic that otherwise would be... MORE
People, use your brain. That heavy reusable tote must be manufactured, the handles sewn... MORE
An earlier Issaquah City Council adopted the State's optional law governing initiative... MORE


A judge will decide whether ballot language on an initiative to repeal Issaquah’s plastic-bag ban is misleading and should be rewritten.

Craig Keller, sponsor of the initiative citizens will vote on Feb. 11, filed a petition Friday in King County Superior Court that objects to the wording of the ballot title and ballot statement.

Keller is chair of Save Our Choice, the group that circulated petitions against the law, which went into effect for larger stores last March and is scheduled to be extended to smaller stores next March.

In his complaint, Keller objected to language saying the law applies only to “certain retail establishments,” bans “lightweight” bags and “encourages reusable bag use.”

In fact, Keller argued, the law applies to all retail stores.

He noted the terms “lightweight” and “encourages” don’t appear in the law, and wrote that the law and ballot language mislead voters by suggesting only heavier-weight bags are reusable.

“Their arrogance offends truth itself and thousands of Issaquah shoppers who frugally reuse their plastic shopping bags,” wrote Keller, who is acting as his own lawyer.

City Attorney Wayne Tanaka, who wrote the ballot language approved by the City Council, said the law and the ballot language distinguish between light- and heavy-duty bags because the thin carryout bags “are not meant to be used over and over again,” whereas reuse is “the whole purpose” of heavier bags.

Ballot statements are meant to summarize an issue but aren’t required to use only words contained in an ordinance or initiative, Tanaka said.

Tanaka said the ballot reference to “certain retail establishments” is accurate because some retailers are exempted.

The law defines retailers as any person or entity that sells merchandise, but it exempts food banks, food-assistance programs and organizations serving low-income households.

A hearing has not yet been scheduled on Keller’s petition.

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon



Celebrate that amazing NFC win with a poster or tee shirt featuring The Seattle Times Jan. 19 front page. Order now!


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►