SPOKANE HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION SOUNDS THE ALARM ON INITIATIVE 517 (I-517)

For Immediate Release

Sept 20, 2013

SPOKANE HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION SOUNDS THE ALARM ON INITIATIVE 517 (I-517)

(SPOKANE, Wash.) – On Thursday, the Spokane Home Builders Association (SHBA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose I-517 on the November ballot.

The measure, sponsored by Tim Eyman, has floated largely under the radar this year, but it contains two specific changes to the law that are of significant concern to the SHBA – local ballot access for illegal ballot initiatives and significant incursions into private property rights.

Ballot Access for Illegal Measures (Section 4)
“Any state or local initiative for which sufficient valid voter signatures are submitted within the time period required must be submitted to a vote of the people at the next election date.”

Regarding the issue of Ballot Access, Michael Cathcart, Director of Government Affairs for the SHBA pointed out, “If this law had been in effect only a few weeks ago, the pre-election challenge to the illegal Envision Spokane and SMAC ballot measures would not likely have been possible.” On August 23rd, the Spokane Superior Court ruled the contents of those measures were beyond the scope of a local ballot initiative and ordered their removal from the ballot. “When a measure is illegal and seeks to strip rights away from the people and/or from businesses it should not be placed on the ballot without an opportunity to challenge its validity. Right now, that opportunity exists through pre-election challenge – this provision would strip that away.”

Private Property Rights (Section 2)
“…the signing of a petition and the collection of vote signatures …is deserving of the highest levels of protection.”
 
“…shall be a legally protected activity on public sidewalks and walkways and all sidewalks and walkways that carry pedestrian traffic, including those in front of the entrances and exits of any store, and Inside or outside public buildings such as public sports stadiums, convention/exhibition centers, and public fairs. Law enforcement must vigorously … ensure they are not inhibited or restricted in any way.”

The other concern is the “significant expansion of rights to signature gatherers, seemingly above the rights of property owners,” said Anthony Carollo, SHBA Board Member and Government Affairs Committee Chairman. “The initiative states that petitioners are to be given the ‘highest levels of protection’ and are ‘not to be inhibited or restricted’ on ‘all walkways that carry pedestrian traffic.’ We have members with store fronts that would be negatively impacted by this initiative, but it would also harm many non-member stores and businesses around our community, so I’m glad we are sounding the alarm.”

“We have a deep respect for the right of the people to petition their government through the initiative process,” said Cathcart, “but making it easier to harm local jurisdictions with illegal ballot measures, and passing laws stripping private property rights is not the appropriate way to improve the system currently in place.”

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