All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Regulating Citizen Initiatives - The Great Tragedy

by Tim Eyman

House Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 5297 are a monstrosity of anti-initiative policies. Instead of separate anti-initiative bills where each anti-initiative policy can be critiqued and highlighted, this year the Democrats went with the omnibus approach, putting all their anti-initiative eggs into one basket.

There is no justification for any change to the initiative process because there is no problem. Over 12 years, 12.7 million signatures have been submitted to the Secretary of State, and there's been 1 problem with 1 SEIU volunteer last year. The SEUI volunteer "collected" 250 forged signatures and subsequently has been charged.

The large number of signatures is a substantial enough hurdle that only a handful of initiatives qualify each year and voters approve some and reject others (and more times than not, the side which spends the least amount of money wins at the ballot box -- voters don't care which side has more money, they care about which side has the better argument).

But the greatest tragedy would be the bills' increase in initiative filing fees. Here's why: opponents of the initiative process say this will stop "frivolous" initiatives from being filed. There's no such thing. Some Washington citizen felt strongly enough about an idea or policy to fill out an affidavit making public their home mailing address, phone number, and email address, draft the initiative language, and submit it to the Secretary of State. They agreed to put themselves and their idea in the public realm for public consumption and public debate. And yes, he or she included $5. That is a good faith effort by a regular citizen to participate in our state's initiative process which is guaranteed by our state Constitution. Usually about 10 to 20 regular citizens do this each year. It takes a great deal of courage for a regular citizen to go through all that.

By way of comparison, legislators introduce 3000 bills in Olympia each legislative session. None of them fill out an affidavit disclosing their home address or pay $5, they just introduce or co-sponsor as many bills as they want. Some are serious, some are not (allowing dogs in bars, naming the state drink, banning body piercing). These thousands of bills are sent to the Code Revisor's office which, with a yearly $4.6 million budget, helps legislators draft them.

No one works on commission, they are paid the same whether it's 3000 bills or 3200. These same people at the Code Revisor's office help the handful of regular people who file initiatives each year. It doesn't cost the taxpayer anything extra for there to be 50 initiatives filed, or 25, or 10, or 5.

These bills propose to increase the filing fee 10,000% to $500. The bills' increase in the filing fee GUARANTEES that regular citizens will no longer have access to their own initiative process. The 'big guys' (us, SEIU, WEA, Bill Gates Sr, BIAW, Costco, etc) will continue to file initiatives but no one else will. The bills' proposed $400 refund if the initiative qualifies for the ballot will only reward the big guys; it'll clearly kill off participation by regular citizens.

Again, we're only talking about a handful of initiatives each year and again, there are no additional costs to taxpayers for initiatives filed (Code Revisor, Secretary of State, AG, they are all salaried, none are paid on commission, so there's no marginal cost for the 10-20 initiatives filed each year by regular citizens).

The initiative process has worked for over 100 years. Please just leave the initiative process alone.

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Related Link

Please see Eliminating Democracy for the Unions.

Sometimes you see a bill in legislature where the supporting arguments are weak. Its not often you see a bill where the arguments have no connection with the legislation, as is the case with SB 5297. No one seems able to point out a problem that the bill would actually fix. The bill only makes it more difficult for the people to control their government.

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Voice your opinion

Please email your State Legislators, and let 'em know they ought to vote No on House Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 5297. Look up your legislator

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Update

Senate Bill 5298 has passed out of committee on a party line vote. It is headed to the floor of the State Senate.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Betrayed! - The Death of Democracy.

You remember the TEA Party rally on April 15, 2009? That when the movement caught the public eye. The movement taught the people they don't have to lie down and let the moonbat authorities run over them.

I was at a rally when this woman came up to me and stuck a camera in my face. I mentioned she was being a little rude to take the peoples photos without permission. She replied How else would they identify me later. Its amazing how intimidating she thought she was. But I was ready for rock and roll that day. "Bring it on," I answered.

That seemed to put her off photographing the rest of us. But I wonder how many of the little old ladies in our group would have stayed in the protest had the moonbat photographer tried to scare them.

All of which leads us to the following quotes, taken from internal memos of the Washington State Council of County and City Employees. The memos are provided by a mole inside the AFSCME - AFL-CIO. The quotes all indicate that intimidation tactics be used on signature gatherers.

"Keep an eye out. The best way to beat this is at the signature gathering stage. Please let us know if you see those paid signature hunters in your area and let them know in no uncertain terms what their job will do to your job! Every signature we stop is one more Eyman has to pay for."

"If you see a signature gatherer, call us. We want to do all we can to stop them."

"Keep an eye out for signature gatherers. Mr. Eyman wouldn't have been able to qualify his initiatives if it wasn't for the paid signature gatherers. We need your help to track these mercenaries."

"If you see a signature gatherer, we suggest you ask signature gatherers if they are being paid, find out their names and take their pictures (alone). 'We would like to identify as many as possible.'"


Even the Moonbat Authoritarian
Daily Kos reported (suggested is more like it) that the Democrats ought to use similar tactics in the 2008 Presidential race.

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The Washington State legislature will soon be voting on a bill to make signature gathering more intimidating. HB 1668/SB 5297 will require every signature gatherer to register with the state authorities, get licensed, provide a photograph for identification, and publish home addresses. All information will be made public. This move would put a thick frosting on citizen involvement in government.

These bills are being pushed by the union bosses of Washington State Council of County and City Employees (AFSCME - AFL-CIO). Unionized "public servants" have already been able to push the legislature into fantastic pay raises during the depression. Now the union bosses are looking to freeze out the people from control of their own government.

Email your legislator and tell them to vote No! on HB 1668/SB 5297.

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This story was compiled from sources.
Voters Want More Choices - Numerous Pictures Show Harassment of Danielle M.
Sound Politics - Anti-initiative Bills Would Make Harassment Easier
Seattle PI Letters column
ParkenFarken blog - Secret Plot to Kill Initiative Process

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pierce County Voters Send Message -- No More Tax Hikes!

Olympia ignores the message and plans tax hikes anyway.

by Caleb Heimlich

This week Washington voters sent another clear message to the Legislature: cut the waste and don’t raise our taxes. Pierce Transit, who already collects a .06% sales tax, was seeking to raise the sales tax in Pierce County by .03%. Voters resoundingly rejected this measure 54% to 45%. In 2002, the last time Pierce Transit sought to increase taxes, the measure passed by an 8% margin.

This victory for taxpayers illustrates the power of grassroots citizens and shows that we are on the winning side of the policy debate. The rejected proposition 1 campaign; a coalition including Tea Party Groups, Campaign for Liberty members, Republicans and members of Americans for Prosperity-Washington were outspent 85-1 by special interests, including government unions. Our side won because of hard work and perseverance. We won because voters agree with our message and oppose tax increases.

While this victory was sweet and should send a clear message to Olympia that taxes are not what the people want, big government forces are already seeking a way around this vote.

Just this week HB 1536 was introduced by Representative Marko Liias which would give local transit agencies the ability to levy taxes on vehicle registration. Without requiring a vote of the people, local transit agencies in Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties would be able to re-institute a $30 tax [increase] on vehicle tab registration.

So while voters rejected one tax hike, it looks like more could be coming our way. Be sure to be in touch with your Legislator and let them know that you do not support higher taxes. The number for the Legislative exchange is 1-800-562-6000.

HB 1536 was passed by the transportation committee on a party line vote 15-12. It will be moving to the House floor. We need you to tell your Legislators to say no to higher taxes and fees.


There is a companion bill in the State Senate, number SB 5457

Clearly the state legislators are ready to spend lots more of your money. Contact them and let them know what you think of these bills.

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Adapted from Democrats Seek to Raise Taxes on Vehicle Registration posted at Americans for Prosperity.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Olympia Plots to Overthrow the People's Initiative Process

Tim Eyman sent out this alert today about the legislature's plans to silence the initiative procress.
[The] 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 with a 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 and forcing them to publicly identify themselves will make them even more susceptible to intimidation.
* A 10,000% increase in the initiative filing fee. 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.
There you have it. Olympia is trying to make us their subjects. Tell your legislators what you think of HB 1668 and SB 5297.

Remind them they are your hired servants.

Regulating Olympia

This is a review of a couple of the more egregious bills to hit the legislature.

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Washington State allows initiative petition campaigns to hire signature gatherers. House Bill 1668 increases the initiative filing fee, and will increase regulation on petition "circulators", and will charge a fee to register signature gathering companies.

Every element of this proposed legislation is designed to clamp down on the petition voice of the People. (Part of the Democrats plan to see democracy inaction.)

The "Democrats" have been repeatedly stung by the initiatives of the people. Its no surprise all the sponsors of this bill are all "Democrats". The "Democratic" Party has not been happy serving the will of the People in a long time.

Try looking at the Get Fiscal Note link on the state HB 1668 webpage. The link didn't work for me. It would be interesting if there is monkey biz happening in Olympia on this one.

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HB 1692 will establish rent control in manufacture housing rentals. The authoritarian, nanny-state element of the legislature is sticking their toe in the door again.

Here is the official bill digest:
  • "Facilitates and encourages fair bargaining between tenants and owners of manufactured/mobile home parks to achieve mutually satisfactory agreements regarding space or lot rents in the parks.
  • "Protects tenants from unreasonable space or lot rent increases while simultaneously recognizing and providing for the need of park owners to receive a just and reasonable return on the investment in their property.
  • "Creates the manufactured/mobile home park rental review board.
  • "Provides that the act is null and void if appropriations are not approved."
That phrase "fair bargaining" is a tells us someone is gonna get hurt if this bill is enacted. The phrase presumes someone is getting unfair treatment, and the legislature has to fix the bad boys wagon.

Another government regulatory agency will be created: The Rental Review Board.

Rent control never made rental housing better. Rent control has only limited the quantity of housing available and degraded the quality of the housing. Although the dollar price of the housing may go down, the loss of quality way offsets the price decrease.

If this bill is enacted into law, it will be another Great Waster of human effort. Rent control is a hateful idea. Rent control is bad because it interferes with free people making use of their property.

The greedy Democrats want to make free use of your private property, so they want rent control. They want to impose their sense of what should be as long as it doesn't cost them anything. It doesn't matter to them that it costs you the control of what you own.

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Once again, into the breach. Notify your legislators in Olympia and tell them what you think of these ideas to micromanage our way of life.

What other people read on this blog

Effing the ineffable - Washington State elections sometimes have been rigged.

“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
-- Joseph Stalin