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Initiative

The People's Initiative – Text

© 2009-2012 Philip Bitar

AN ACT Relating to providing a citizen-controlled ceiling on the income and debt of the Washington State government, as allowed by Articles 7, 8, and 32 of the Washington State constitution; and creating new sections.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:

NEW SECTION.  Section 1.  (1)  The “price of the Washington State government” shall be defined as the annual income plus the total debt of the government expressed as a fraction of the gross domestic product for the state. “Annual income” shall include all income to the state except for federal revenue for which there is no legal means, under federal law, by which the state can avoid accepting it. The “gross domestic product for the state” shall be defined as the total value of expenditures for all final goods and services produced in the state in a twelve-month period.

(2)  Upon approval by the people, this section shall take effect the following fiscal year, at which time the current price of government shall be established as a ceiling on the future price of government. The citizens shall raise the ceiling by a two-thirds vote and shall lower the ceiling by a majority vote.

(3)  Normally a measure to change the ceiling shall be requested by a vote of each branch of the legislature, a two-thirds vote to raise the ceiling and a majority vote to lower the ceiling, or by a petition containing number of valid signatures satisfying the signature threshold. The state election officer shall complete the certification procedure for an initiative within four weeks after receiving it. The signatures on a petition may be dated anytime after the last regular legislature election. A voter may sign multiple such petitions for measures that appear on the same ballot.

(4)  After a request by the legislature or after petition certification, the respective measure shall be scheduled for the next regular legislature election if the election occurs at least four months in the future.

(5)  On a given ballot, a voter shall indicate which measures, if any, they are in favor of, but they may not vote to both raise and lower the ceiling. If multiple measures are approved to raise the ceiling, the approved measure having the highest ceiling shall prevail. If multiple measures are approved to lower the ceiling, the approved measure having the lowest ceiling shall prevail. An approved ceiling shall take effect the following fiscal year.

(6)   The initial “signature threshold” shall be eight percent of the ballots cast in the last election of governor. But in every subsequent regular legislature election, the citizens shall vote on the threshold percentage. The choices shall range from zero percent to a maximum percent in increments of one percent. The votes shall be cumulated in that order, and the percent at which a majority is obtained shall prevail. The legislature shall decide on the maximum percent.

(7)  To address an emergency, a measure to change the ceiling may be requested by a three-fourths vote of each branch of the legislature and placed on a special ballot that occurs at least two months in the future. A ceiling approved in this way shall take effect immediately.

(8)  The legislature shall have power to implement this section by appropriate legislation but shall not establish unnecessarily restrictive petition deadlines, rules, or charges, shall not prevent the citizens from printing petitions single-sided on a paper size that is accepted by most citizen-owned printers, and shall prohibit the public disclosure of the names and other information of the petition signers.

NEW SECTION.  Section 2.  The Secretary of State shall motivate the private development of online petitioning systems for optional use by petition sponsors. To achieve this, the Secretary shall advertise the need for an online petitioning system by which voters can achieve the following online within one year of approval of this initiative: authenticate their identity and then sign a petition by voting to put the respective measure on the ballot. The Secretary shall not develop such a system but shall specify standards for security, database interface, user interface, and information presentation that must be met by an online voting system, and the Secretary shall certify any online voting system that is submitted for certification and that meets the standards. The state shall not pay any company for system development to meet these standards since company compensation will come through acquiring petition sponsors as customers in the competitive market.

NEW SECTION.  Section 3.  The citizens of Washington State enact sections 1 and 2 as statute law and request the Washington State legislature to approve section 1 as a Washington State constitutional amendment and to submit it to the people for approval.

Reference citation.  Philip Bitar, "The People's Initiative: Initiative text", posted at www.LetsTearUpTheBlankCheck.com, 2009-11-17, updated 2012-12-01.


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