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Initiatives

Initiative 517

Would Change the Initiative/Referendum Process

Sponsors:  Tim Eyman (Mukilteo) and Jack and Mike Fagan (both of Spokane)

Ballot Title:

Initiative Measure No. 517 concerns initiative and referendum measures.

This measure would set penalties for and broaden the definition of interfering with or retaliating against signature-gatherers and petition-signers.  The definition of interfering would  include “abusive language” and would result in criminal charges.  It would require that all measures receiving sufficient signatures appear on the ballot regardless of whether a measure is ruled unconstitutional.  It would also extend time, from ten months to 16 months, for gathering initiative petition signatures.

Secretary of State Summary:  This measure would define terms concerning interfering with or retaliating against petition-signers and signature-gatherers, and would make such conduct a criminal misdemeanor and subject to anti-harassment laws.  The measure would require that all state and local measures receiving enough signatures be placed on the ballot, limiting pre-election legal challenges.  The measure would also extend the time for filing initiatives and gathering signatures from ten to sixteen months before the election when the vote would occur.

Funders:  The committee FOR the initiative is called “Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives.”  According to reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) as of January 15, 2013, the largest contributor to this committee was a Lakeridge, Virginia organization called “Citizens in Charge,” which had donated $182,806.38 in in-kind contributions.

According to Wikipedia, “Citizens in Charge is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization started by Paul Jacob in 2001 that works directly with public officials and voters to protect and spread ballot initiative rights.” Also according to Wikipedia, Paul Jacob is a long-time Libertarian who has advocated against the military draft, for limited government and for term limits. Information about the primary financial contributors to “Citizens in Charge” is not available because of its status as a 501(c)4 organization, whose privacy was protected by the US Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision. 

Another large contributor to Initiative 517 is Edward Agazarm, who according to reports submitted to the PDC for September 2012, had made in-kind contributions of $67,014.90. Agazarm describes himself on PDC forms as retired. According to a November 2010 article  in Seattle Business, Agazarm “runs the biggest signature-gathering operation in the state, Citizen Solutions, and every May and June, his crews can be found in front of shopping malls and big-box stores. But only if there’s an initiative campaign willing to pay.”

A third large contributor was another petition-gathering group based in Edmonds called Peoples Petitioning. It contributed $42,711.75. 

Nearly all of the other in-kind contributors to 517 were individual signature gatherers from California and Oregon.

The total raised by the Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives Committee, as of January 14, 2013, was $305,454.05.

A complaint filed with the PDC about the Initiative 517 signature-gathering effort is under review by the PDC.  According to an article in the Tacoma News Tribune, the complaint contended Initiative 517 supporters improperly required signature-gatherers for another popular initiative to also gather signatures at the same time for Initiative 517.

Opponents:  The committee AGAINST Initiative 517 is called “STOP TIM EYMAN’S PROFIT MACHINE: NO ON 517″   Leading this committee are Andrew Villeneuve and Philip Lloyd, both of Seattle. Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute. On the Institute’s Web site, he is also described as “a WordPress security consultant, civic affairs facilitator, and a member of the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC).” In 2002, Villeneuve formed Permanent Defense to publicly oppose Eyman’s initiatives, which he calls “senseless schemes to wreck government.”

Opponent Funders: No contributions have as yet been reported to the PDC.

Impact: [Coming soon]

Initiative 522

Would Require Labeling of Food Produced Through Genetic Engineering

Sponsors: Chris and Leah McManus (University Place)

Other Committees FOR 522: GMO Right to Know. Officers and Directors of this committee include: Steve Hallstrom, Cecelia A. Boulais, Beverly Goldie, Marlene Beadle, Les Berenson, and Goldie Caughlan. This committee, as of January 15, 2013, had raised a total of $500 from $250 contributions by Hallstrom and Boulais.

Ballot Title:

Initiative Measure No. 522 concerns labeling of genetically-engineered foods.

This measure would require most raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seeds and seed stocks, if produced using genetic engineering as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale.

Secretary of State Summary:  This measure would require foods produced entirely or partly with genetic engineering, as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale in Washington, beginning in July 2015. The labeling requirement would apply generally to raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seeds and seed stock, with some exceptions, but would not require that specific genetically-engineered ingredients be identified. The measure would authorize state enforcement and civil penalties, and allow private enforcement actions.

Funders:  According to reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission as of January 4, 2013, funders include the Puget Consumer Co-op (PCC) at $114,000; Mercola Health Resources (a vitamin and nutritional supplement manufacturer) at $50,000; Organic Consumers Association (an association of natural foods businesses and consumers) at $50,000.

Impact:  [Coming soon]

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