OLYMPIA — Washington voters on Tuesday were weighing in on an “initiative on initiatives” that would make it easier to get measures on the ballot.
Initiative 517 requires that voters be allowed to have their say on any proposal that qualifies for the ballot, even if a lawsuit has been filed against it. The initiative also would give supporters a year, instead of the current six months, to collect signatures, and it would make it a misdemeanor to interfere with the signature-gathering process.
Initiative promoter Tim Eyman filed I-517 last year just weeks after the state high court ruled that city laws allowing for red light traffic cameras are not subject to repeal by voters.
Business groups and others had lined up in opposition, saying the proposal will affect their ability to deal with nuisances outside of their stores.
A state Supreme Court ruling in 1981 found that initiative backers have a constitutional right to gather signatures at a large regional shopping mall. A 2007 attorney general opinion notes a Court of Appeals ruling stating that right is tempered by the property’s owner’s ability to place “reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on the activity.”
The attorney general’s office has not stated whether I-517 would override time, place, or manner restrictions, or whether that would violate the constitutional rights of property owners, but initiative supporters have argued nothing in the proposal takes rights from business owners.