OLYMPIA – Almost every year for more than a decade, Washington’s premier proponent of initiatives, Tim Eyman, has had a ballot measure to promote, and 2013 is no exception. This year’s initiative topic: initiatives.
Eyman and other supporters of Initiative 517 filed petitions with more than 345,000 signatures Thursday for a proposal that would make changes to the state’s initiative law. It would set penalties for anyone harassing a signature gatherer, allow signatures to be gathered at the entrance to any store or inside or outside any public building, and add an extra six months to the signature-gathering process.
Initiatives to the people can now be as early as January for a general election in November, but the petitions must be turned in by early July for signatures to be checked and counted for validation. Processing the proposal before it’s ready to print petitions so signatures can be gathered can take weeks, so the practical time for gathering signatures is often five months or less. I-517 would allow initiatives to be filed as early as July of the year before the election, essentially giving a campaign up to a year to gather signatures.
I-517 has about 100,000 more signatures than the minimum requirement, which makes it all but certain of being validated. It would go first to the Legislature, where it could be passed into law. The Legislature could also reject it, which would put it on the general election ballot, or pass an alternative, which would put both proposals before voters in November.