Paul Jacob

Tim Eyman, Washington state’s so-called “initiative king,” calls Sen. Ken Jacobsen (D-Seattle) “the most honest elected official” on the issue of voter initiatives and referendums. So, what did Jacobsen do to earn such praise?

The senator introduced Senate Joint Resolution 8202. In one of Eyman’s famous mass emails to his group’s “thousands of supporters throughout the state (cc’d to all media outlets — reporters, columnists, editorial writers, and others in newspapers, radio, and TV — House & Senate members, and the Governor),” Eyman offered this unvarnished perspective:

Ken Jacobsen is the most honest elected official on this issue. He’s openly pushing to take our rights away from us. The sponsors of the other anti-initiative bills . . . hide their opposition and seek to impose unneeded, costly requirements on citizens so as to effectively repeal the initiative process with a stealth “regulate to death” strategy.

One sponsor of one of those “other" initiative-choking bills is Rep. Geoff Simpson (D-Covington). He says, as if on cue, “I support the initiative process.” But his legislation would limit contributions to an initiative campaign to $50. It would also limit a sponsor’s income from working for a campaign to “the annual salary of a legislator.”

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Good thing he supports the initiative. Imagine, otherwise, what he might propose be done to it? Or to Eyman.

Representative government has seen better days. It’s not enough that Congress and most state legislatures are nearly universally seen as so many modern-day “dens of thieves,” but some legislators feel the need to also cut off any and all citizen lifelines.

That’s what initiative and referendum (and recall) amount to: lifelines to be used when necessary to check government power.

Are they over-used? Are there too many initiatives or referendums on the ballot, blocking the careful march of progress orchestrated by legislators in Washington state?

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.