Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Legislative Gag Order

The Democrat controlled legislature does not like limits. It doesn’t care for the vox populi or the mandates imposed on them by citizens. This session, Democrats in the legislature have tried their best to stifle opposition to their rash agenda. No, I am not talking about their heinous success in censoring Republicans from criticizing their budget, though that counts, too. I mean that they have taken several disgraceful actions toward limiting the right of the people to participate in democracy.

Here’s what’s gone down this session. This shouldn’t make Joe Citizen happy.

If you hate opposition, eliminate it
Early in the session Senator Ken Jacobson, a longtime Democrat legislator from Seattle proposed
SJR 8201 to eliminate our power of initiative and referendum. Jacobson said that initiatives undermine America’s republican form of government. Though Jacobson seems to have forgotten that a republican government means you actually represent citizens of the state. Should the legislature take this into account, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many initiatives.

If you can’t eliminate initiatives, the stick an e-clause on it
SJR 8201 quickly failed in committee, mostly due to political posturing. So, the Dems reverted back to last year’s session trend, the emergency clause.

This clause is intended to be used only when the health or safety of state citizens is at risk. Most new laws do not take effect until 90 days after the legislative session adjourns. This allows citizens time to gather signatures to file a referendum (remember, one of those things Jacobson hates). Our state democracy is designed so that citizens ultimately have the final say on whether or not a measure becomes law. When an emergency clause is enacted on a bill, the right to referendum is denied.

This year, the abuse of the emergency clause has again been rampant. When Rep. Toby Nixon (R-Kirkland)
introduced legislation to prevent the abuse of the emergency clause, Speaker Frank Chopp quickly killed it. In return, he asked members to “govern themselves” when using it. This reeks of dirty politics. The Democrats don’t want to eliminate the emergency clause; it’s their bread and butter for ensuring that their arrogance of power is not overturned by the people they are supposed to represent.

The slow death of I-601
In order to make legal their “tax-and-spend” “shell game” (I use these words copiously here since Republicans in the House have been
censored), Democrats have to first further gut I-601. SB 6896 and PSHB 2552 would accomplish this. These two bills are supposed to appropriate money into savings accounts. Under the guise of fiscal foresight though, these bills are deceiving. The intent of them is not to truly save money, but to artificially inflate the 601 spending limit. What’s worse, the emergency clause again makes an encore appearance on both these bills. I am sniffing and sniffing but still don’t smell any smoke! Where’s the emergency?

Senator Joe Zarelli (R-Ridgefield) is leading the charge against these two bills by proposing a series of amendments to eliminate the emergency clause, changes the bill titles to show true effect, and prevents I-601 from being gutted. A vote in the Senate is due any day now.

I am beginning to think that when Tim Eyman showed up to a Senate hearing in January wearing handcuffs and duct tape over his mouth was more than just a political stunt. It now seems to be a valid analogy of what’s going on in Olympia.

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