OLYMPIA — State Rep. Mike Hope launched a search Wednesday for a bunch of really good ideas from people on ways to make state government better.
Later this year, the Lake Stevens Republican and a squad of advisers will pick the best 100 ideas they find, publish them in a book and urge state lawmakers to act on them in 2012.
“The four walls of the state Capitol, filled with politicians, lobbyists, special interests and political insiders, are not the sole repository of good ideas for Washington,” he said in a statement issued at the kick-off of the “100 Ideas for Washington’s Future” initiative.
“Instead, the hardworking citizens who pay taxes and raise families are the true reservoir of great ideas for our state. And that’s why we are launching the 100 Ideas Initiative,” he said.
Hope is trying to replicate what Oklahoma did in 2008 under the leadership of former Oklahoma House Speaker Lance Cargill. Half the 100 ideas Oklahomans suggested became law, Hope said.
The way he said it will work is the public can go online today and submit ideas. Or, they can hold an “idearaiser” in which a group of people gathers to come up with suggestions. Hope said there will be some town hall meetings held around the state too.
The advisory group and Hope will vett the ideas throughout the year, winnowing the list this winter. Those whose ideas are will be credited in the book.
Hope formed a nonprofit group to guide and finance the initiative. For now, he’s collecting donations that will pay for a small staff and publication of the book. Orders are already being taken though Hope said he’s not sure who will publish it.
He is pretty far along in forming the advisory panel.
So far, he’s enlisted Democrats including Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and former Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewell and Republicans such as King County Councilman Reagan Dunn and state Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane.
Also on board are Kenyon Chan, chancellor of the University of Washington’s Bothell campus; Janice Green, president of the Snohomish County branch of NAACP and JJ Frank, director of minority achievers program for the YMCA of Snohomish County.
Dunn and Parker joined Hope for Wednesday’s kick-off.
“This will provide a new infusion of creative ideas into a system that sometimes gets stale,” Dunn said of the initiative.
Parker said he thinks part of the reason the state is in the fiscal quandary it’s in stems from government not listening to people enough the last 10 years.
“The government that works best is the government that stays close to the people and listens,” he said. “This whole idea is an experiment on how we listen better.”
While only Republicans attended Wednesday, Hope insisted this undertaking is nonpartisan.
“Good ideas come from both sides of the aisle,” he said. “We’ll listen to any good idea that comes to us,”
Though maybe not the ones which emerged last year when Gov. Chris Gregoire and a cadre of influential business, education and political leaders did much the same thing as Hope is proposing now — minus the book.
They spent months brainstorming ways to transform state government. They also reached out to the public for suggestions via the Internet. Gregoire conducted town halls across the state, including one in Everett which attracted several hundred people.
In the end 1,951 ideas came into the website and the advisory group formulated several reform proposals. A few are making their way through the Legislature this year.
Hope, in an interview earlier this month, called that effort “crap” and “politically driven.”
On Wednesday, he sounded much less dismissive.
“We’re basically building on that,” he said.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org.