I-517: Win or lose, lawmakers should consider next steps
Tomorrow Washingtonians will head to the drop box or mailbox and turn in their ballots passing judgment on I-517 and the changes proposed to the state's initiative system. Depending on the outcome lawmakers will be faced with a couple of options.
Scenario 1: Voters approve I-517. Under this outcome lawmakers should honor the public statements and "intent" of I-517's sponsors by changing the text of the new law to make it clear it does not change current case law and stores are still able to deny access to their private property and those deemed to be a "public square" are still able to utilize reasonable restrictions on time, place and manner of signature gathering (this should include public buildings as well).
Here are the comments of the spokesperson for I-517 during a TVW debate saying unequivocally that despite the text of the measure saying it applies to "any store" that was not the intent and advocates do not want to change the current case law.
Scenario 2: Voters reject I-517. Under this outcome lawmakers may want to revisit those proposals considered last session to increase the time for signature gathering (SB 5499) and to ensure initiatives with valid signatures proceed to the ballot (SB 5347). Steps to further clarify existing case law on when access to private property for signature gathering on "public squares" is allowed and what constitutes reasonable restrictions should also be considered to avoid the need for further litigation on this issue.