Will 2015 be the last year for initiatives?

by | Jan 22, 2015

 Every legislative session, there is a white hot obsession among some in Olympia to gut the initiative process.  So we have to play whack-a-mole every year, beating back legislative assaults on the citizens’ initiative process.   

         Their latest is simply obscene.

         38 out of 49 state senators are co-sponsoring a bill that would give the government the power to stop citizen initiatives from even being filed.  Signature collection would not be allowed on any initiative the government decides doesn’t “fiscally balance.”   

        Their bill (SJR 8201) reads:  No initiative may be filed if the “state determines that the measure will result in state expenditures that are not in compliance with any statutory state balanced budget requirement.”

       Their bill will mean the end of the initiative process because it will give the government the power to shut down any initiative they see as a threat.  Any initiative can easily be found to be “out of compliance” with this bill’s requirement.  

         For over 100 years, citizens have had the freedom and the guaranteed constitutional right to discuss, debate and decide on issues they care about.  The government couldn’t stop First Amendment activity and the exercise of free speech.  

         Under their bill, for the first time, the government will have the power to block any initiative they want.  And the people have no recourse.  If the government says “no, we’ve determined that your initiative doesn’t balance”, then the people’s right to initiative is extinguished.      

         Under their bill, any initiative that affects taxes and spending is affected (it’s important to realize that even straight policy initiatives always affect taxes and spending and so this encompasses any initiative on any topic).

         Conservative initiatives, liberal initiatives, non-partisan initiatives.  In our 100 year history of citizen initiatives, there isn’t a single citizen initiative proposed or passed that would have been immune to the government manipulation permitted by this bill. 

         The Public Disclosure Act, woman’s right to vote, marijuana regulation, Top Two Primary, lower car tabs, state spending limits, liquor privatization, gun background checks, clean energy, property tax limits, smoking ban, limits on affirmative action, charter schools, higher minimum wage, doctor assisted suicide, and many more.

         Under this bill, every single one of them could have been blocked for non-compliance under this requirement and there’d be no recourse for the citizens.

         Their bill gives the government the power to veto any initiative they don’t like before the idea can even be shared with others.  

         In our entire state history, there’s never been a more audacious legislative effort to undermine the citizens’ initiative process than SJR 8201. 

         All 49 senators and all 98 house members need to hear from all of us.  Please send them an email that says (feel free to add more, tell ’em how you feel):  “Don’t gut the initiative process with SJR 8201.  It gives the government the power to stop any citizen initiative.  Please oppose it.”

        You’ll likely have to do 2 emails, one for the senators and one for the house members.

        Here are all 49 state senators.  Co-sponsors of this horrible anti-initiative bill — both Republicans and Democrats — are marked in red (maybe they weren’t told how bad it is).  The ones in black aren’t necessarily against the bill, they just didn’t sign on as co-sponsors so they need to hear from you too.  Cut and paste these email addresses into the “To” line of your email:

Here are the senators co-sponsoring that horrible anti-initiative bill:


Here are the senators who aren’t co-sponsors but may be in favor of it: