Washington State Ballot Advisory Vote 9

On this year's Washington State ballot, voters are asked to consider Advisory Vote 9 (Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1287), concerning leasehold excise tax on tribal property. Voters are asked to choose to either "repeal" or "maintain" this bill. 

The ballot advisory question seeks voter affirmation to continue to direct land-use tax on use of tribal property by private parties in lieu of property taxes. Although the State Legislature has already made this change, state law requires a subsequent nonbinding vote by the people (an advisory vote). 

Background on Advisory Vote 9: In 2014, the Washington State Legislature imposed the leasehold excise tax on certain leasehold interests in tribal property, costing an estimated $1,298,000 in the first ten years, for Washington State government spending. The House Bill 1287 passed the State Legislature with a majority vote and was signed by Governor Jay Inslee in April of 2014. 

About House Bill 1287: The bill exempts from property tax fee land (non-trust) that is within the boundaries of a tribe's reservation and used for any purpose. Land that is leased to a third party for economic development would be subject to a leasehold excise tax. Land located outside of a tribe's reservation and used by a tribe for economic development purposes would also be exempt from property tax, but subject to a payment in lieu of taxes of no more than the equivalent of the leasehold property tax. 

What this means for the Snoqualmie Tribe: the Tribe does not lease any of its properties to private parties at this time, so, the leasehold excise tax would not affect the Tribe. The Snoqualmie Tribe, and other tribes in Washington State, endorsed and supported House Bill 1287 because it ensured that federally-recognized tribes would be treated the same as state and local governments when it comes to tax rules for land owned exclusively by tribes, strengthening tribal sovereignty. The Tribe endorses voting to "maintain" Advisory Vote 9.