One should always beware of initiatives generated by the Tim Eyman moneymaking machine. They are always self-serving for him and his operation. You see, it is not about sound public policy or effective government. His initiatives are always tied to his need to disrupt the process while drawing more money into his pockets. Initiative 517 is the latest offering from Eyman. While cloaked in the guise of improving the initiative process, it tramps on property and individual rights of others. Tim Eyman wants to define free speech and property rights so they only benefit him and his paid signature gathering friends.
The initiative states “citizens’ right to participate in the initiative and referendum process needs to be protected." That right is already protected in the Washington Constitution and state law — and that is not what his initiative does. It tramples on basic rights that we as citizens take as a given; it would require that signature gatherers be allowed "on public sidewalks and walkways and all sidewalks and walkways that carry pedestrian traffic, including those in front of the entrances and exits of any store, and inside or outside public buildings such as public sports stadiums, convention/exhibition centers, and public fairs." In other words, basically anywhere a signature gatherer decides to work.
Government office buildings, public sports stadiums like Safeco and CenturyLink Fields, schools, libraries, at the entrances and exits of any store at any time, even the sidewalk to your home would not be off limits. Can you imagine a signature gatherer crowding down the rows during a football game soliciting signatures or interrupting parents at a school PTA meeting?
But wait, it goes farther; I-517 says that people cannot interfere with signature gatherers. Its definition of interference includes, "touching," "yelling," "tumultuous conduct," or "maintaining an intimidating presence within 25 feet of any person trying to gather signatures." The initiative creates a special protected class for signature gatherers.
The text of the initiative calls campaigns designed to oppose signature gathering a "despicable process." So much for the First Amendment.
I-517 also would extend the time to gather signatures from 10 to 16 months. Why this is needed is unclear; we have initiatives that qualify for the ballot every year under the current timeline. Extending the time would merely provide Eyman with more time to raise money. One has to wonder how much it would actually benefit the initiative process.
Enough is enough. There are already adequate legal protections for signature gatherers. This is a bad and unnecessary initiative.