March 30, 2015
Newspaper Editorial Boards blast anti-initiative bill SB 5715
Washington Legislature News
by Tim Eyman, 08:53 AM

The Olympian Editorial Board: Senate Bill 5715 ... is flawed and slaps a fiscal impact notice that could - with the wrong administration - morph into a government intrusion into the process.

Kitsap Sun Editorial Board: A Senate bill may intend to help voters make an informed choice, but it's too chilling in that aim. There's a worry that some initiatives may be judged differently than others by the state's Office of Financial Management, which is under the governor and thus not truly a neutral agency. As pointed out in reporting over the past week, there's perhaps another aim coming out of Olympia on this one. Several emails from Sen. Jan Angel to constituents hint that her sponsorship comes because of an initiative threat she described only as "a situation coming." Limiting initiatives on what "may" happen seems to take a low view of voters as well.

Tri-City Herald Ed Board: Flawed as written (warning label on some initiatives, not others, isn't right). Some flaws exist in the bill as it stands ... Most notably, it would be up to the state to decide if there's enough fiscal impact to merit the additional attention to the voters. It should apply to all.

Walla Walla Union Bulletin: Warning-label plan for initiatives goes too far -- Unfortunately, the concept is being taken a step or two too far by calling for the state's Office of Financial Management (that answers to the governor) to make a projection of the fiscal impact. That projection could easily be tainted by partisan politics and other biases. ... This is giving the government too much power. ... Voters have an obligation to look at the various sides of initiatives before they vote. That can be done without state government offering its warning label to the ballot.

Oregonian columnist Elizabeth Hovde: A shortcut that leads down a dangerous road. There's a bill hanging over the heads of Washingtonians that should concern us all ... SB5715 is being pushed as a way to offer warning signs to voters. I don't trust that. The bill has a plethora of red flags: It doesn't treat initiatives equally. It allows a changing governor's office a role it shouldn't have. And ballot titles in Washington are legally required to not result in the state creating bias for or against an initiative. Some of us are offering lawmakers a warning sign not to adopt SB5715.

The ACLU: "We are opposed to the interjection of government sponsored speech on one side or the other of a political debate. Here, the primary purpose of placing this "information" -- with numbers determined by a state agency -- on the ballot is to sway voters into voting against the initiative. This goes beyond mere provision of information, and is designed to sway voters. The State should not use its power to tilt the electoral playing field. Proponents, opponents, and the media already do an active job of informing voters about costs; there is no need for the State to provide an "official" version of that in a prominent place on the ballot, where no other statements for or against are allowed."

One can sympathize with this bill's claimed intent but still find this particular bill's approach deeply flawed and unworthy of support.

And for those who believe "something must be done," Sunday's Olympian editorial, after rejecting SB 5715, wrote this: That leaves one option. HB 2055 ensures that an initiative's impact on budgets is calculated and made available to authors of the pro and con statements that are published in the voter pamphlet. The bill is sponsored by Republican Rep. Norm Johnson of Yakima and co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Sam Hunt of Olympia. Secretary of State Kim Wyman supports it, and even initiative-sponsor-for-hire Tim Eyman says he doesn't mind it. This modest measure deserves action this year.

Each of us must do our part to protect the initiative process from this horrendous legislative assault.


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March 29, 2015
Any initiative with SB 5715's warning label will lose at the ballot box
Washington Legislature News
by Tim Eyman, 05:27 PM

Earlier, there was a post highlighting the 3 fatal flaws in SB 5715. One of them was that the bill requires a warning label on some initiatives but not others -- the governor decides which initiatives get it and which ones don't.

But it is the particular wording of the warning label required by SB 5715 which guarantees a loss at the polls for any initiative that gets it slapped onto its' ballot title. It contains two loaded, biased, vote-suppressing phrases:

1) "... this proposal would have an unfunded net impact ...". First, it is stated as a fact: it "would have" - not "may have" or "is estimated to" or "is projected to" or "might" - it is a certainty (which it certainly is not). Second, the phrase "unfunded net impact" is not defined and certainly isn't a commonly used or understood term in Olympia, let alone the public. That creates confusion and that results in a "no" vote for many voters. Finally, the number that follows that particular phrase probably wouldn't matter ($30 million, $300 million, $3 billion) -- a large percentage of the voters would never vote for an initiative that said it " ... this proposal would have an unfunded net impact ...". And it's significant that the amount stands alone: "this proposal would have an unfunded net impact of (amount) on the state budget." Not "per year" or "over two years" or "over four years" -- it's just a stand-alone number that gives the voter no idea the time line is describes. The result? Guaranteed confusion = guaranteed loss at the ballot box.

2) "This means other state spending may need to be reduced or taxes increased to implement the proposal." Where do we start? As Steve Nielson, a concerned citizen who spoke against the bill, testified in the House, "Why not just have it say it hurts unicorns and kills baby kittens?" As the ACLU wrote: "This goes beyond mere provision of information, and is designed to sway voters."

And again, the warning label doesn't get slapped on all initiatives, just the ones the Governor's budget office decides needs one. As Scott Roberts of the Freedom Foundation wrote: "Ballot measures the governor finds favorable will cost very little and those he dislikes will cost a fortune. We don't need the governor having this kind of influence over citizen initiatives."

Former State Auditor Brian Sonntag's emailed testimony against the bill said it well: "This seems to be a heavy handed approach to influence the Initiative process."

And last week's Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial nailed it: "Warning-label plan for initiatives goes too far"

Each of us must do our part to protect the initiative process from this horrendous legislative assault.


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March 27, 2015
3 fatal flaws with anti-initiative bill SB 5715
Washington Legislature News
by Tim Eyman, 11:11 AM

FATAL FLAW #1: SB 5715 doesn't treat all initiatives equally: it requires a warning label on some initiatives, but not others. Who decides which initiatives get a warning label and which ones don't? The Governor's budget office. If the warning label was on all initiatives, that'd be one thing, but by slapping the warning label on some initiative ballot titles and not others is incredibly dangerous. It gives the Governor the power to sabotage any initiative he/she doesn't like. Go a step further: this will deter initiative sponsors from doing initiatives on certain topics (anything the Governor opposes), creating a powerful chilling effect on the initiative process. SB 5715 gives the Executive branch complete power over the citizen initiative process.

FATAL FLAW #2: the Attorney General is required by law to describe initiatives with a ballot title which is neutral and which "does not create prejudice for or against the measure" and is subject to judicial review to ensure impartiality. But SB 5715's warning label is nothing but biased ("this proposal would have an unfunded net impact ..."? "This means other state spending may need to be reduced or taxes increased to implement the proposal"? -- Gimmee a break) AND IS NOT SUBJECT TO JUDICIAL REVIEW. If the governor's budget office assigns the warning label to an initiative, it's over, it's done, there is no appeal, no judicial oversight. There are checks-and-balances with initiative ballot titles, there are no checks-and-balances when it comes to SB 5715's warning label.

FATAL FLAW #3: The ACLU opposes the bill. This is significant. The ACLU have been powerful defenders of the initiative process over the years and it is noteworthy to have them arguing strongly against this bill. Their argument is powerful and persuasive: "We are opposed to the interjection of government sponsored speech on one side or the other of a political debate. Here, the primary purpose of placing this "information" -- with numbers determined by a state agency -- on the ballot is to sway voters into voting against the initiative. This goes beyond mere provision of information, and is designed to sway voters. The State should not use its power to tilt the electoral playing field. Proponents, opponents, and the media already do an active job of informing voters about costs; there is no need for the State to provide an "official" version of that in a prominent place on the ballot, where no other statements for or against are allowed."

Each of us must do our part to protect the initiative process from this horrendous legislative assault.


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March 24, 2015
The House Of Representatives Delivered A Resounding Vote Of No Confidence In President Obama's Policies Toward Iran
State Congressional Delegation News
by Jim Miller, 09:00 AM

The letter cautioning Obama was signed by 367 members of the House, a more than two-thirds majority.

The reproof was bipartisan; majorities of both parties signed the letter.   Many prominent Democrats signed, including Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Chairwoman of the National Democratic Party Debbie Wasserman Schultz, civil rights hero John Lewis, and far-left congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.

Not all Republicans signed the letter.  I was not surprised, for instance, that Justin Amash did not sign.

You can look at the signatures to see whether your representative signed the letter; you can even, as I just did, look to see who in your state's delegation signed.

For Washington state, there are eight signers, in order: Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, 5th), Suzan DelBene (D, 1st), Derek Kilmer (D, 6th), Rick Larsen (D, 2nd), Dave Reichert (R, 8th), Dan Newhouse (R, 4th), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R, 3rd), and Denny Heck (D, 10th).

The two who did not sign are: Jim McDermott (D, 7th) and Adam Smith (D, 9th).In this area, I don't know of any local journalists who will ask our representatives why they signed, or why they did not sign.  That's unfortunate, because the decision to sign, or not sign, is one of the most important in this Congress, and voters should know why their representatives chose to reprove — or to back — President Obama's increasingly reckless efforts to get an agreement, any agreement, with Iran.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

(If you haven't already, you really should read the brief letter.  It's polite — and powerful.)

Correction:  Derek Kilmer did sign the letter, which makes more sense, from what I know about the 6th district.  Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader for spotting the name, which I had somehow missed, on three separate readings of the list.  I've corrected the text above.


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