Washington's initiative process has turned into a perquisite for gilded self-interests to write laws and seek special treatment that would not hold up to legislative scrutiny.
Washington’s lucrative initiative industry keeps cranking out prefabricated legislation with all the billable campaign hoopla to sell it to voters.
Once again, my vote is a weary “No” to the three contrivances on the November ballot.
Initiative 1183 wants to privatize liquor sales. What is broken with the current system? Who thinks about it? Liquor is currently sold in low-profile, easily accessible stores. Does the change portend big savings for consumers? Not even the proponents argue that.
Instead the usual routine with initiatives is in play. All of the urgency and grievance is manufactured by those who drafted exactly what works out best for them.
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Costco is spending a bundle to peddle spirits. There is no better place to buy a ream of coffee filters, a canister of low-dose aspirin or a vat of kalamata olives. What’s next, pulling up to a pump to fill a barrel with Kirkland-brand vodka, or hauling home a shrink-wrapped pallet of Glenlivet? Hmmm.
Once again the initiative process precludes any serious review, analysis or follow-up. It’s just that guy — what’s his name — filling in as a faux state legislator or governor as the fee-based task demands.
The rhetoric about privatizing liquor sales is spiked with talk of how other states market spirits. Right, and barely half the states have initiative or referendum processes. So what is the point about how other states do anything?
Dueling television ads and mailers for I-1183 have boiled down to “my EMTs can kick your deputies’ butts.” Hey, how about an initiative that looks at the scheduling of overtime and emphasis patrols to inflate pay for law enforcement close to retirement? Oooh.
Another resounding “No” for Initiative 1125, the quest to kill light rail before it reaches the Eastside via Interstate 90, or any way. Ostensibly about tolls, Bellevue businessman Kemper Freeman has crafted a basic attack on a coherent plan to knit the region together with public transportation. Moving people back and forth across the water, for work, commerce and whatever. Microsoft gets it.
The Eastside rail link is presently set to open around 2022 or about 54 years after the question of rapid transit was first raised in the progressive and remedial infrastructure investments proposed in Forward Thrust. About the same amount of time between World War I and the moon landing.
The essence of initiative-fueled presumption is also found in I-1163, which takes the emotional topic of care for the elderly and vulnerable in society and ordains more training. Period. The Service Employees International Union is pushing the requirement without regard for the expense of the self-serving imperative. Pay for this, cut something else.
So what is the remedy for cash-strapped lawmakers — laying off more SEIU workers to come up with the cash to cover the additional training and certification? As this initiative will likely pass, others in state government will literally pay for it with their jobs.
Washington’s initiative process has morphed from a relief valve for democracy into a perquisite for the most gilded of self-interests: I-1183 — No; I-1125 — No; I-1163 — No.
Lance Dickie’s column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org