Initiative process works well

May 19th, 2014 by Ken

One of the advantages of living here in Washington state is the ability of the people to make new laws and overturn existing laws.   It’s tool is the initiative and referendum.

In a nutshell – – the initiative allows us to make law by getting  signatures of enough registered voters on a petition.   The number of signatures is based on election turnout.  Currently about 246,000 valid signatures are needed.   If the number of valid signatures is certified by the Secretary of State’s office then the measure will go on the fall ballot.

A referendum overturns an existing state law.   The number of signatures needed is currently around 123,000.

There are other types of initiatives and referendums, but these are the basic facts.

The governor and members of the state legislature don’t like initiatives or referendums.   They don’t want the unwashed masses making laws.   That’s what they’re for and they don’t want citizens messing around with their jobs.

However, there are often problems with initiatives written by the people.   Most often they concern legalities.  Many initiatives are overturned by the Washington State Supreme Court on a legal technicality.   Most often it’s because the initiative addressed more than one issue – – a no no.

An initiative must address only one specific action.

Then, there’s the case of competing initiatives.  Sometimes we have two initiatives on the ballot that address the same subject from two different points of view.

We have that this year with the issue of gun control.  Two initiatives will be on the ballot – – one favoring more gun control and one restricting the state’s right to mandate new control rules.

If both pass, the issue will be taken up by the Supreme Court.

These failures of citizen drafted initiatives perplex our elected officials who want some controls on the process or some filtering mechanism to make certain that only technical legal initiatives make the ballot.

That shouldn’t be their concern.   Restrictions on our rights to petition the government shouldn’t be decided by the government.

Don’t let your elected officials  restrict your right to the initiative process.

Posted in Government, History, Informational, Local Politics

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