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Debate of I-517 discussed the Initiative about Initiatives and Referendums

Debate of I-517 discussed the Initiative about Initiatives and Referendums
COLFAX, WA - The state's Initiative 517 is commonly referred to as the "Initiative on Initiatives."

If voters approve it, the measure would redefine the laws for passing Initiatives and Referendum measures.

Under I-517, interfering with or retaliating against petitioners and signature gatherers would be a criminal misdemeanor. All measures that get enough signatures would automatically make it onto the ballot, and the allotted time to gather signatures would increase from ten to 16-months. The Pullman League of Women Voters held a debate about the issue Tuesday night.

"517 makes citizen participation safer, and guarantees people's right to vote on initiatives," said Initiative 517 Proponent Ted Weatherly.

"The vast majority of things that are protected here, there's already legal protections for," said Initiative 522 Opponent Rob Rembert. "What this really does, and they want, ultra-protection. And ultra-protection that violates the rights of others."

Supporters of the Initiative said gathering signatures is a first amendment right that deserves protection. They said the petitioning process is becoming more difficult and dangerous.

Opponents said it's a broadly-defined law that infringes on business owner's rights to force petitioners away from their store. They feel it would waste taxpayers' money because local Initiatives would go on the ballot even if they're illegal or invalid.
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