A Senate committee put the brakes on a plan to give the right of initiative and referendum to Spokane County voters.
House Bill 2367 was inspired by enthusiasm for the initiative portion of the city-county consolidation measure trounced at the ballot box last November.
Rep. Larry Crouse, R-Spokane Valley, sponsored the measure.
Initiatives allow voters to put issues on the ballot not proposed by county lawmakers. Referendums allow voters to second guess ordinances in an up-down vote.
In both cases, enough signatures must be gathered to put an issue on the ballot.
After passing the House unanimously, the bill was referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, chairman of the committee, sat on the bill until it was too late to get it to the Senate floor.
Haugen said her committee had too much to do and didn’t have time to hear the measure.
“We would have had to spend a full meeting on it,” she said. “We just didn’t have time for that.”
“I think that’s the stock answer around here,” Sen. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley, said of Haugen’s excuse. “With the myriad of bills we looked at, that doesn’t work.”
McCaslin said he would not try to pull the bill from committee to the floor because that likely would offend Haugen.
“I wouldn’t want somebody to do that to me if I was chair, so I won’t do it to her,” McCaslin said.
Rep. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said Haugen failed to note that initiatives and referendums were approved for the state 60 years ago.
“I guess she has problems giving power to the people,” Schoesler said.