I don't know how many people keep up with politics in my home state of Washington, but there was a recent hearing on some of the bills our state is trying to push through to fight the initiative process.
HB 2019 would make signature gatherers sign under oath. They already have to sign, but good old lefty Joe McDermott doesn't think that's enough. Signing under oath should scare off a few petition gatherers, or at least put the fear of God and prosecution into them, right?
HB 2018, also a McDermott creation, wants anyone who employs paid signature gatherers to get a permit. The permit would be good for a single petition and the signature gatherers would have to keep it with them while gathering signatures. Great opportunity to hassle people trying to change our screwy laws (including, of course, the volunteers, who would still be asked to provide their permit, I'm sure). And who else foresees the definition of "paid" getting pretty fuzzy if this makes it through? After all, a lot of volunteer signature gatherers get free food, a shirt, or some other compensation.
SB 5181 wants signature gatherers to wear nametags. The tags would have the person's name and their status as either a volunteer or paid signature gatherer. Y'know, because the public needs to be able to quickly name the signature gatherer. And paid folks are sure to get fewer signatures if this passes, regardless of whether the petition has merit. After all, there are a lot of people who don't want to fix laws if someone's getting money (except, of course, those people who made it screwy in the first place--we're all providing that paycheck).
At Friday's public hearing on these bills, a man gave a nice little speech about the problems with these bills: "I've never been harassed by the public as I'm being harassedby the Legislature that I helped put into office. What possible threat do I pose that I need be licensed, regulated and leaned on by the government.I'm singled out because I might possibly bring a conflicting point of viewto the ballot. I find this to be discriminatory and outrageous. Shame on those who put another burden on a hardworking taxpayer doing a legitimate job. Just please leave me alone."
That last sentence, of course, pretty much sums up my thoughts on government in general.