At the end of the 2018 legislative session, Democratic lawmakers seemed to craft a new way to circumvent the state Constitution. Just before the session ended, the Legislature passed a law enforcement bill that was planned to go on the ballot in November as an initiative (Initiative 940). Normally, this would not be an issue as the Legislature has the power to approve an initiative as it is written. However, this time around lawmakers took a step beyond what is allowed in the state Constitution, as they passed the law with an amendment.
According to an article in The Seattle Times, “under the state Constitution, lawmakers can approve such measures as written; reject or ignore them, in which case they appear on the November ballot; or propose an alternative to appear alongside the original on the ballot. In this case, the Legislature crafted a fourth option: It passed the original — Initiative 940 — as well as a law to amend it with changes…” As The Seattle Times explains, it is very clear that Democrats worked outside of the bounds of the Constitution when they approved the amended initiative.
Thankfully, Republican state Senator Joe Fain and initiative expert Tim Eyman have taken notice of the complete disrespect of the state Constitution by the Democrats. Senator Fain said it well: “I have incredibly grave concerns that we are creating a convoluted process for getting around a constitutional right.” In addition, Tim Eyman has filed a lawsuit, explaining that “the Legislature went rogue, disrespecting the initiative petition signers and preventing voters from exercising their right to vote.”
Senator Maralyn Chase, a Democrat from the 32nd Legislative District took an opposite stance on the issue, claiming “this is a worthy endeavor… I think it takes precedence over what the Constitution says about initiatives.” Senator Chase and other Democrats in the Legislature have clearly demonstrated their lack of respect for the state Constitution. Thankfully, Republicans like Senator Fain and Tim Eyman are working to make sure lawmakers follow the Constitution.