Seattle Times: “This is spite, codified.”
“Spite, codified.” That was what Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey recently called six bills in the Washington state legislature that aim to restrict the initiative process. All the bills would severely hamper Washingtonians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to put state laws on the ballot through petitioning. Ramsey says all the bills are sponsored by bitter legislators who want to take a slap at perennial initiative sponsor Tim Eyman.
The bills range from capping donations at $50 per person to pushing workers collecting signatures into back alleys and out of reach of voters, to disenfranchising voters by tossing their signatures when a campaign worker made a mistake. Also included is a bill to cap the salary that an initiative sponsor can make from an initiative at ”the annual salary of a legislator.” It seems some legislators are jealous that they aren’t the only ones who can support a family by working in politics.
A number of groups were on hand to testify against these ridiculous bills at a hearing earlier this week, including the ACLU, King County Democrats, and a group circulating a petition to legalize marijuana in the state. All of them noted that these changes would restrict the process and make it less open to average citizens.
At the end of the editorial, Ramsey notes that no legislators are working to make the process more open and accessible, saying:
you could also argue for reforms to make initiatives easier, such as to allow petitions to be on regular-sized paper, to be circulated on the Internet and collected by PDF or fax. Not one of the bills is aimed at making the process easier.
In 1912, the progressives created the right of initiative. Now they abridge it, even for their friends.