Momentum builds against Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517

From the Campaign TrailStatements & Advisories

The diverse and bipartisan group of organizations, businesses and concerned individuals working together to defeat Tim Eyman’s latest initiative is stepping up efforts to ensure that voters are aware of the cost and consequences of I-517.

I-517 would lengthen the signature gathering period, permit petitioners to go inside public buildings, prohibit businesses from reining in aggressive signature gatherers, and require that all local initiatives go to the ballot at taxpayer expense – even if they are invalid or unconstitutional.

“Voters need to know about the fatal flaws with Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517 before they make a decision,” said NO on I-517 steering committee member Andrew Villeneuve, the founder of the Northwest Progressive Institute.

“Our diverse, bipartisan coalition is committed to ensuring that Washingtonians know that I-517 threatens the free speech and property rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution and the Washington State Constitution.”

Organizations that have recently joined the opposition to I-517 include the Spokane Home Builders, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce, and the Kittitas, Kitsap, and Whatcom County Democratic Parties. More groups and individuals are adding their names every week.

Also opposed to I-517 are Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders FC, the Washington State Democratic Party, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington, the Northwest Progressive Institute, and the Association of Washington Business. Current and former elected officials opposed to I-517 include Representative Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), former Attorney General Rob McKenna, former Auditor Brian Sonntag, and former Secretaries of State Sam Reed and Ralph Munro.

The NO on I-517 Coalition additionally welcomed the endorsements of The Seattle Times, The News Tribune of Tacoma, and Governor Jay Inslee, all received during the past seven days.

The News Tribune wrote of I-517, “The right to petition the government is a vital one. But all rights have limits. I-517 overreaches, giving signature gatherers privileges that infringe on those of private property owners and the public.”

The Seattle Times added, “[I]t would grease the signature-gathering process. It reads as if Tim Eyman wrote it to expand his initiative-manufacturing industry… I-517 overreaches by broadening the turf for signature gathering. The clipboard armies would be explicitly allowed in any public building, including any public sports venue, and on ‘all public sidewalks and walkways that carry pedestrian traffic.'”

And Governor Jay Inslee told public radio’s Austin Jenkins that he’s voting NO on I-517 because it violates the First Amendment rights of ballot measure opponents:

Inslee says he will vote “no” on the other measure on Washington’s November ballot. Initiative 517 would give ballot measure sponsors more time to collect signatures. It would also set penalties for interfering with or retaliating against signature-gatherers or petition-signers. Inslee says he thinks the proposal would intrude on people’s First Amendment rights to express their opinions.

To learn more about the campaign against I-517, visit the coalition’s website.

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