SENATOR MICHAEL BAUMGARTNER AND COMMISSIONER AL FRENCH TOP THE LIST OF SEVERAL EARLY – ENDORSEMENTS APPROVED BY THE SPOKANE HOME BUILDERS

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(SPOKANE, Wash.) – Last week, the Board of Directors of the Spokane Home Builders Association (SHBA) voted unanimously to early-endorse several incumbent candidates for re-election in 2014. They join Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich who already received the Association’s endorsement earlier this year.

“Our region is truly blessed to have so many hard working elected leaders fighting to make government smarter, less intrusive, and more efficiently sized,” said Michael Cathcart, SHBA Government Affairs Director. “Included among those our board selected for early-endorsements are two local leaders likely to see high profile re-election campaigns next year: Senator Michael Baumgartner and County Commissioner Al French.”

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, Vice-Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, has been an ardent advocate for smarter, reform-minded policies that eliminate unnecessary government mandates and ensure a more prosperous economic environment for Washington State. His leadership has helped to promote cooperation among the diverse members of the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC), and has provided a needed Spokane/Eastern Washington perspective within the bi-partisan group.

“Our small businesses and the home building industry very much need to see Sen. Baumgartner re-elected and the principles of the MCC continue to lead the Senate,” said Deacon Band, SHBA President. “The common sense reforms championed by Sen. Baumgartner and the MCC are necessary to continue enhancing our business environment.”

Commissioner French has long been a strong proponent of pro-growth policies such as expanding the Urban Growth Area boundary where needed and making permitting an easier and less expensive ordeal, demonstrating his intimate understanding that a strong economic environment and a robust housing industry are dependent upon each other.

“Al French brings with him a reservoir of knowledge, years of experience, and a terrific track record on property rights, small business, and economic issues,” said Joel White, SHBA Executive Director. “He is clearly the best choice to serve another four years as Spokane County Commissioner.”

The following candidates received early-endorsements from the Spokane Home Builders Association:

Michael Baumgartner – State Senator, 6th District; Rob Chase – Treasurer, Spokane County; Susan Fagan – State Representative, 9th District; Al French – Commissioner, Spokane County; Jeff Holy – State Representative, 6th District; Ozzie Knezovich – Sheriff, Spokane County (endorsed earlier this year); Joel Kretz – State Representative, 7th District; Kevin Parker – State Representative, 6th District; Cathy McMorris Rodgers – Congress, 5th Congressional Dist.; Joe Schmick – State Representative, 9th District; Matt Shea – State Representative, 4th District ; Shelly Short – State Representative, 7th District;

Not all races were considered in this slate of early-endorsements. Additional endorsements will be approved in the coming months.

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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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