Washington State adopted its initiative process in 1912. Since that time, the initiative process has been used to enact laws large and small. Documents from the Secretary of State say, “Today, if Washingtonians are dissatisfied with certain laws or feel that new laws are needed, they can petition to place proposed legislation on the ballot.” It continues that the initiative process acts to secure “the rights of citizens to make and remake their laws, and to provide a check over the decisions of their Legislature”
Let’s be completely clear. The two upcoming ballot initiatives regarding liquor, Initiatives 1100 and 1105, have absolutely nothing to do with “Washingtonians dissatisfied with certain laws” or “securing the rights of citizens.” They are about big business. Initiative 1100 was largely driven and funded by Costco. Initiative 1105 was driven largely by Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers, which now, comically, opposes the initiative.
This should come as no surprise. The initiative process in Washington State is, at this point, nothing more than a sham process for big business and moneyed interest groups to pass legislation that circumvents the state government. Period. This is what these two bills represent. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something or being paid by someone to say so.
Before I discuss the details of these two initiatives in a subsequent post I will give you my personal take on initiatives in general. The Washington State initiative process is a destructive force. In a highly dysfunctional state and local government, it tops the bill. Why?
Voters are asked to read increasingly complicated initiatives that are nearly impossible for the average person to decipher without – and in some cases with – a substantial amount of research. They are often complicated pieces of legislation that have far reaching ramifications on the state budget and on state laws. In the worst cases, it’s hard to even tell what voting for or against a particular initiative even means.
Personally, at this point, I refuse to sign initiative petitions when people – often paid by big businesses – are collecting signatures. I encourage others to do the same. The only initiative I would sign would be the one that either does away with the initiative process or substantially changes it. Those initiatives that do make it before voters, I routinely vote against – unless of course I need to vote for it to vote against it. If you are living in Washington State, you know exactly what I mean by this.
I have, occasionally, made exceptions for certain social issues. Why? Because these are not particularly complicated pieces of legislation and are things the legislature will never consider. I have no problem with this. But voting for or against initiatives that have large and wide reaching effects on the state budget that voters cannot possibly have enough detailed information to make an informed decision? Sorry folks. This is a sham.
The bottom line is that the issues in both of these initiatives are far too complex to be written by big box companies, foisted on the voters, and then force fed to the state whatever the consequences may be. So, simply based on principle as I believe this process is to the great detriment to the State of Washington, I will be voting against Initiatives 1100 and 1105. That is where I stand. Not because what these initiatives are proposing is necessarily good or bad, but because I do not believe issues like this should be left to voters to decide in this fashion. Issues like these are the entire reason why we have elected officials.
Now of course, if such matters as proposed in Initiatives 1100 and 1105 were to come before the legislature, the reality is that these same interest groups – Costco and others – would simply throw large sums of money at various lawmakers and lobbying groups to try to create the outcome that they want. Heck they would even front the money to get it before the legislature in the first place! But I will take my chances with a more sensible outcome before the state legislature than from voters trying to decipher these initiatives.
Having said all this, for those of you who want more details on these initiatives, I will offer – reluctantly – some details regarding these latest two s!#t sandwiches brought to you by the Washington State initiative process, Initiatives 1100 and 1105. I say reluctantly because, no matter how much research one does, it is fairly complicated to understand and detail the full extent of the changes proposed. I will, however, give it a shot. Look for this post later this week.
For your enjoyment, I have set up on the sidebar on the right two reader surveys – one for Initiative 1100 and one for Initiative 1105. I will leave these up until Election Day. Let the battle begin!