By Jerry Cornfield
Tim Eyman of Mukilteo today turned in signatures for Initiative 517, a measure that would increase time for collecting signatures, add penalties for harassing petitioners and prevent local governments from blocking votes on measures brought to them by residents.
Eyman said he turned in petitions containing 345,000 signatures of registered voters. He needs at least 241,153 be valid to qualify for the November ballot.
However, because I-517 is an initiative to the Legislature, it will be sent first to state lawmakers for consideration. They could adopt it as is though that is unlikely. They are more likely to not act on it and it will go onto the ballot. They also could craft an alternative to put on the ballot as a competing measure.
“We have 11 months for people to get to know the initiative,” he said. “We think it will be very popular.”
Joining Eyman at the Secretary of State’s Office this morning were the two men who funded and guided the collection of signatures for this measure – Paul Jacob, president of the Virginia-based Citizens in Charge Foundation, and Ed Agazarm, retired co-founder of Citizen Solutions, a professional signature-gathering firm.
Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a longtime Eyman nemesis, watched the trio speak to reporters then announced formation of a committee to fight the measure. Its name, he said, will be “Stop Tim Eyman’s Profit Machine.”
Villeneuve said if the initiative became law sponsors of initiatives would gain six additional months to gather signatures. That means petitioners could be out and about year-round which would make the business of initiatives and signature gathering more lucrative, he said.
“This initiative is just intended to make it easier and cheaper for people like Tim Eyman to do initiatives,” he said.
Villeneuve may not be the only foe. As I wrote today, the Washington Retail Association is worried the initiative could enable petitioners to be inside or outside any store in the state.
Eyman said that’s not the case. He said the measure is only aimed at changing state law to allow gathering of signatures inside and outside of public buildings