If we can't get rid of 'em…
…at least we can get control of 'em. It's my conviction that whatever value the initiative process had as a populist reform has been lost in the era of full time initiative shops and paid signature gatherers. The impulse behind modern initiatives is often more profit than populism.
Repeal of the process would require an amendment to the state constitution and would involve a risky and expensive election if it could clear the legislative barriers to the ballot in the first place. The best immediate path forward isn't repeal, but reform through regulation. This sounds like a good start...
State Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-West Seattle, is sponsoring a bill this session that would place new requirements on the ballot-initiative process aimed at reducing the chances of fraud in paid signature-gathering.Tim Eyman, predictably, hates SB 5297. That might be the best reason to support it.
Some highlights of the Senate Bill 5297 include:· Paid signature gatherers would need to register with the Secretary of State; failure to register would incur a fine.
· Those convicted of fraud, forgery or ID theft would be prohibited from gathering signatures in Washington for five years.
· The initiative filing fee would increase from the current $5 to $500, with a $450 refund if the measure qualifies for the ballot. The $500 fee would be waived if the initiative was filed with 1,000 valid signatures.
· The affidavit on the back of petitions must be signed by the signature gatherer, attesting that the signatures were collected in accordance with state law. If not, the initiative sponsor would have to pay the cost of checking the validity of every signature.