Category Archives: Good folks

Rep. Appleton responds

Sometimes its hard to tell whether LAs check their members’ email addresses, or if they go straight to the member. In the case of Rep. Sherry Appleton, she checks it:

Thanks Emmett.  I am Vice-Chair of the Committee, so I will discuss it with Sam as well.  Again thank you for your comments and your idea.



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Filed under Good folks, legislation

Going beyond the banning of paid-per-signature

Rep. Sherry Appleton is at least talking the right talk about her paid-per-signature ban:

The whole issue behind Initiative and Referendum is it belongs to the people. The framers of the State Constitution envisioned citizens who were passionate about issues – either enacting legislation or repealing what the legislature had passed – to go out to the general public and gather signatures. It was not supposed to be an easy process – we do not have direct democracy but a representative democracy.

It was not supposed to be big business, but a heartfelt response to what action or inaction in the legislature.

Instead of just making it harder for folks to buy their way onto the ballot (a goal I’m 100 percent for, by the way), why not make it easier for citizens to use the initiative process? Right now Washington requires the largest petitions in the country for ballot petitions. There is no real reason for this, but it prevents anyone that doesn’t have tens of thousands of dollars on hand from launching any sort of grassroots campaign.

Allowing anyone to print out and circulate a petition would do more to hand the initiative process back to citizens than banning paid-per-signature.


Filed under general thoughts, Good folks, legislation

Meeting with Rep. Hunt Tomorrow

Tomorrow I’ll finally sit down with my local representative that has a more direct say in bills that effect the initiative process. Mostly my fault it has taken me so long, and I’m thinking this lateness will really prevent anything happening on Printer Democracy this session.

I’m sure Rep. Hunt already has tons on his plate for this year, and reforming the initiative process (even in a small way) might not be one of them. But, I have my 15 minutes tomorrow morning, so I’ll let you know.

Either way, I have a new handout (pdf file) with proposed bill language on the back, so I’m sure that will help.

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Filed under Good folks, Meetings

We need more Sam Garsts (fewer Michaels and Martins)

While conservatives lean on big money sugar daddies like Michael Dunsmire and Martin Selig to bank roll their initiatives, progressives go to a different sort.

Meet Sam Garst of Olympia, the most prolific signature gatherer for I-937.

While conservatives can pay low wages to get feet on the streets collecting signatures at high traffic locations (Mariner games, the front door at Safeway), Sam and his ilk were out every weekend at community events and progressive gatherings, rounding up as many signatures as possible.

One of things that I liked that Sam said often was “you can’t assume someone has signed.” Even in Olympia, where progressive politics is almost as common as beer, not everyone sprinted to sign I-937 or even knew about it. You can’t be afraid to ask.

Another thing is that I got tons of emails from Sam not only reminding folks to sign, but to collect signatures as well. He didn’t create a new email list, he used the lists that were out there already and asked subscribers to participate. When a discussion on one list questioned putting energy into supporting 937 as opposed to fighting 933, Sam thoughtfully participated, and actually brought the original dissenter (maybe to strong a word?) around.

Sam is a great example why volunteer signature gatherers are valuable to the initiative process and democracy. Paid signature gatherers don’t have any stake in the passage of an initiative beyond getting paid. Folks like Sam have a stake because they believe.
While we can’t ban signature gatherers from being paid, we can prevent them from being paid a bounty for each signature.

We can also (and you kind of knew this was coming) help folks like Sam do their work and help the rest of us be more like Sam by shrinking the minimum size of petitions. By making the petition itself more accessible, the rest of us can easily get our hands on them, making volunteering in and initiative campaign, easier to do.

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Republicans tried to shrink petition in 2003! (it didn’t work)

And, when I say “we,” I mean to include such Republicans as Toby Nixon and Pam Roach. Back in the old days of 2003, when David Goldstein and Tim Eyman were first staring each other down, there was a good idea that didn’t win in the legislature.

Back in 2003 Toby Nixon introduced HB 1014 (in the Senate as SB 5441), which would have shrunk the allowed size of petitions to 8.5×11. Of course it didn’t pass, but it goes to show that a good idea is a good idea on both sides of the aisle. I’ve attached the analysis and there is also audio of the public hearing available at TVW.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1. The Secretary of State supported this idea. That’s good to know, because when your idea to change the initiative process is opposed by the chief election official in the state, I don’t know if your idea gets very far.

2. The Association of Washington Business and Assocation of General Contractors both testified against the bills. And no one else. Even Tim Eyman came down to Olympia for his first legislative hearing to support this one. The AWB opposed the bill because it would limit “voter education,” apparently because if you had a smaller piece of paper to sign, you would know less.

3. There was also opposition because of possible fraud from people faking initiatives. This has been brought up before, so it bears following up on. I wonder since Washington has the largest initiative petition in the country whether we have a particularly low occurance of fake petitions.

4. One person spoke at the House hearing saying that there was no history of why the legislature chose the 11×14 dimensions in the 1980s. They simply landed on that size, which is not a good reason for it to stick around.

And, to say it once more, it doesn’t bother me that Republicans tried to get this done in 2003. The very idea of this came to me from a ballot initiative I didn’t support, and tried to convince others not to sign or vote for. It is just a good idea, no matter who agrees with me.

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Filed under general thoughts, Good folks, Success