Important. Please read. El Bumpo.
Sorry for the really long post but it's important. Read it. This could have a direct impact on our ability to bypass Olympia and get things done here in Washington State. The text below is from an email from CFL Tri-Cities.
New bill will completely shut down the initiative process (join us at 2 hearings in Oly next week Wed 8 am & Thurs 10 am)
"Initiative process, born 1914, died 2011, cause of death HB 1668/SB 5297." That's how the death certificate will read for our constitutionally guaranteed right to initiative if House Bill 1668 / Senate Bill 5297 is approved and signed into law by Gregoire. This monstrosity of anti-initiative policies passed the state senate last year (29 Democrats
yes, 19 Republicans no). It failed to get out of committee in the house, but this year, they've added more anti-initiative legislators to that same committee to prevent that from happening again.
These bills are being fast-tracked through the process. And these bills are not requested by the Secretary of State. And amazingly, it's estimated to cost $360,000 to implement (I thought they had a budget problem?).
Before we list all the ways this legislation burdens the signature gathering process, let's first analyze if there's a problem. From 1999 to 2009, there were 36 ballot measures that submitted a total of 10,516,645 voter signatures to the Secretary of State. Zero instances of verified forgeries or fraud. Last year in 2010, there were 6 ballot measures that submitted 2.2 million signatures, no verified forgeries or fraud except one SEIU official, not a paid petitioner, collecting for the income tax initiative I-1098 who is now being prosecuted under current law for several petition sheets. 12 years, 12.7 million signatures, 1 problem SEIU volunteer.
The current system is working and current laws are clearly deterring bad behavior. The state Constitution clearly says that only laws that facilitate the process are allowed (making the process easier), laws that burden the process are unconstitutional. But that's not stopping these anti-initiative zealot politicians, backed by anti-initiative special interest groups, pushing their shut-it-all-down bill to regulate the initiative process to death. Here's just a few of its most egregious policies:
* HB 1668/SB 5297 is the "gotta-register-and-be-licensed-by-the-government-to-gather-voter-signatures" bill. We'd have to apply for a license, be subjected to criminal background checks ("paper-copy finger-print based background checks"), provide a
"conventional photograph showing head, neck, and shoulders appropriate for copying and processing,” and if approved by the government, carry it with us when collecting signatures (only one license per initiative) and must produce it whenever asked ("Show us your papers" just doesn't sound right in America). There's also a laundry list of fines and other requirements that heavily burden the signature gathering process. In Oregon, these rules TRIPLED the cost to qualify for the ballot (before, the average was $150,000, after, the average was $470,000).
* Right now, both volunteers and paid petitioners print their name on the back -- in 2006, out of 17000 petition sheets, 3000 from our volunteers either forgot or chose not to put their printed name on the back. HB 1668/SB 5297 would require printed name, signature, address, city, state, zip code, and date. With that, fewer volunteers would collect signatures, fewer petition sheets would be sent in, among those sent in fewer would have the necessary information, and the campaign would be fined for any sheets
without the information on the back, resulting in the campaign discarding perfectly valid voter signatures. All that extra burden for everyone in order to make it easier to find the people collecting bad signatures which isn't happening.
* The 9th Circuit struck down a 1993 Washington state law that required the names and addresses of people collecting voter signatures for ballot measures to be publicly reported (again, we're not talking about petition signers, just signature collectors). They ruled that citizens who ask voters to sign petitions have a right to anonymity ("There can be no doubt that the compelled disclosure of this information chills political
speech.”). People who gather signatures are regularly harassed (www.voterswantmorechoices.com/harassment.asp) and forcing them to publicly identify themselves will make them even more susceptible to intimidation.
* A 10,000% increase in the initiative filing fee (from $5 to $500!). This bill radically increases the cost to file an initiative and is clearly intended to deter citizens from petitioning their government for change. The huge number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot already provides a big enough hurdle. The people overwhelmingly support the initiative process and oppose legislative sabotage, like HB 1668/SB 5297, imposing additional burdens on the citizens.
The initiative process is already really tough and getting tougher every four years (the number of signatures keeps increasing). This bill will shut it down.
Send an email to Olympia and tell them "Keep your grubby hands off our initiative process - reject House Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 5297."
Important. Please read. El Bumpo.
And this relates to OC why?
It says the hearings are "next week" but it is not dated. When was this written? Are the hearings on the 16th and 17th?
A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.- Thomas Jefferson March 4 1801
I think the "Death of the Initiative Process" announcement is a little alarmist. Read some more about the "why's".
Yes, there hasn't been that much "fraudulent signature gathering" yet. What is the real issue about background checking of signature gatherers is to prevent another entry into the field of Identity Fraud. You just assume that all that information you put down on the "petition" is going to legit users? More and more people are trying to obtain information from the public today and not all are using it for "honorable purposes".
As for the filing fee, was listening to a commentator yesterday that pointed out the number of Initiatives that are filed but never even get close to making the ballot. You can "file" for anything. If you want everyone to plant Red, White, and Blue Petunias in their front yard in this State, you can file an initiative. If you don't get enough signatures, there is still a ton of work from reviewing the Initiative, giving it a Title and description, and then checking the signatures. Read the rest of the Bill, the part where it says that $450 is "refunded" if the Initiative is successful in making the ballot. It isn't designed to kill the initiative process, it's to keep some of the "over the top" initiatives from even being filed. The ones that don't have a chance from the beginning and never gain enough signatures to make the ballot.
Note to tannerwaterbury:
The Initiative process in WA State is available to everyone, including the OC movement. It could be a good tool to further our agenda if the Legislature continues to ignore, or worse, restrict our rights. Any attempt to remove this process should concern us all although I don't see this bill as the threat that some might.
"If I shoot all the ammo I am carrying I either won't need anymore or more won't help"
"If you refuse to stand up for others now, who will stand up for you when your time comes?"
It clearly relates to OC as Levin showed. Heck, we could have Constitutional Carry in this state if we really wanted it and the career politicians couldn't do a thing.
The problem is letting those in power undermine those areas that they cannot directly overthrow. I prefer to resist any change to the systems originally installed. Remember the law of unintended consequences...
Alarmist? Maybe the way they wrote the email but it IS an attack on the Rights of the People to express themselves to those in power. In Washington it's the only way we can clearly make ourselves heard in Olympia. And it works the way it sits. Leave it alone.