Thank you for taking the time to contact me about Senate Bill 5297 and House Bill 1668 concerning the rules and regulations around signature gathering. I always appreciate hearing from my constituents about these important issues.
I actually signed onto this legislation in the house as a co-sponsor and believe that it is vital to take a look at this process routinely as well as to make it fair to all parties involved. The primary goal of the legislation is to ensure the integrity of the initiative process, by regulating paid signature gatherers and signature gathering businesses. When the state constitution was amended to create the initiative process, I don't believe the drafters would have imagined what big business the initiative process has become.
This last summer, paid gatherers were being paid as much as $3 per signature because of the high volume of initiatives. When an initiative requires 400,000 signatures, which could be over a million dollars in business from just one. So, HB 1668 asks paid gatherers and signature gathering businesses to register with the state, and provide similar information to what paid lobbyists are required to provide.
The other thing the initiative does is raise the filing fee for initiatives to $500. Every year, dozens of initiatives are filed and only a handful makes it to the ballot. But for each one that is filed, the Secretary of State and Attorney General's office spend hours analyzing and preparing documentation, even those that never make it to the ballot. Raising the filing fee would help reimburse more of these costs. This bill imposes some common sense protections that are reasonable and help ensure the efficiency and transparency of the initiative process.
Unfortunately, this bill has not met the requirements to continue through the legislative process this year. However, it can certainly be considered again next legislative session. You can keep an eye on the bills at www.leg.wa.gov. Again, thanks for your message and feel free to contact us again should you have any more questions or concerns.
All my best,
Rep. Marko Liias (D-21) (Edmonds area)
Vice Chair, House Transportation Committee
Although Liias' tone is genial, legislative attempts to limit citizen involvement in the law making process are despicable. Plain citizens would be under 1668 regulation, even though they may be volunteering their time.
The remark about money being used in politics is vacuous scare tactics. If a petition can cost the sponsors $3 per signature, only rich sponsors will have the resources to deal with the regulations of 1668.
The real problem in Liias' previous proposals is they would limit non-unionized, plain citizen participation in the democratic process. Heavily funded issues which can afford to spend $3 per signature will remain untouched.
Incidentally, unions were specifically exempted from regulation in signature gathering under 1668.
Rep Liias assures us he will continue to support anti-democracy legislation. If you live in District 21, you should consider sending Rep Liias an email about this. And you should vote for someone else next election.
The Gang of Too Many
The forces aligned against free democracy in Washington State are Representatives Reykdal, Hunt, Appleton, Kenney, Goodman, McCoy, Dunshee, Carlyle, Pettigrew, Hasegawa, Ryu, Liias, Darneille, Fitzgibbon, Eddy, Dickerson, Ormsby, and Jinkins.
From the state Senate, they are Senators Nelson, Conway, Harper, Chase, White, Kohl-Welles, Kline, Keiser, Prentice, and Shin.