11/30/2012Washington: Voter Initiative Would Protect Red Light Camera Bans
Initiative would overturn Washington Supreme Court ruling blocking anti-red light camera votes.
Photo enforcement firms might have thought they won in Washington when the state's highest court ruled voters had no right to vote on whether red light cameras or speed cameras could be used in their community. In the 5-4 decision handed down in March (view ruling), the majority insisted the legislature only authorized city councils to make such decisions, not members of the electorate. Voters could overturn that decision next year.
Initiative mastermind Tim Eyman, who lost the legal case over red light cameras in his home town of Mukilteo, now has a statewide ballot proposition that would effectively nullify the Washington Supreme Court's adverse ruling. The cameras were taken down in Mukilteo after 71 percent of voters agreed with that the automated ticketing machines had to go, but activists in other cities have been denied access to the ballot in the wake of the decision -- even though the state constitution says "the right of petition... shall never be abridged."
"What our new initiative does is create a new state law that is unambiguously clear that any initiative that qualifies for the ballot is going to be voted on," Eyman told TheNewspaper in an interview. "Within the text of the measure, it says for the term 'local legislative authority,' it must be interpreted to include voter initiatives by local citizens."
Eyman did not intend to work on the Protect the Initiative Act this year since he has been consumed with pushing his anti-tax initiative I-1185, which passed earlier this month. Eyman says a significant chunk of the signatures needed to place his initiative defense measure known as I-517 on the statewide ballot were collected by others including signature gathering guru Eddie Agazarm who was intrigued by the protections in I-517.
I-517 makes it a crime of disorderly conduct to harass signature gatherers and prevent people from participating in the Democratic process. The proposal also extends the deadline for completing the signature gathering by another six months.
"When I first started doing initiatives fifteen years ago, you needed 180,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot," Eyman said. "This last election we had to turn in 330,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. There's been this exponential growth in the number of signatures, but the amount of time has remained the same. Only corporations and unions and really well-organized groups like us seem to be qualifying for the ballot."
Having more time to gather support would encourage grassroots groups to become more involved. On the other side, Eyman expects executives with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to lead the fight against I-517.
"I want Charles Territo, I want Bill Kroske to go hog wild to tell everybody why they should vote no on I-517," Eyman said. "Nothing would make me happier than to have them fund the 'no' campaign. They've got to convince people that it's a really good idea that initiatives that qualify for the ballot not be voted on. It's absolutely going to tie these jerks in knots. My dream is that anti-camera activists in other states will see what we did and see that they can continue to fight back against this stuff not just in the courts, but in the area where we're strongest -- taking our case directly to the voters."
A copy of I-517 in available in a 150k PDF file at the source link below.