I-517: Win or lose, lawmakers should consider next steps

November 4, 2013

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.


Fire Jason

Mercier who is on record for not knowing the common everyday meanings of a "store" or a "public bldg". For being unable or unwilling to to look those words up in a dictionary to find their common everyday meanings and apply them to the intent of I-517, now he pretends to tell the legislature what it should do. Oh please.

Mercier is in the tank for the strip malls. Any store means any store period, public bldg means any bldg owned by the public for public use period.

Speech is speech. Strip mall operators can't regulate what we speak about in public. Period. There is no language in the initiative re "public square".

Jason should be fired.

Case law


I agree with you that the text of I-517 applies to "any store" which is why it runs afoul of constitutional property right protections. Spokespersons for I-517, however, have claimed it doesn't apply to "any store" but instead only to those deemed to be a "public square." Public square is not mentioned in I-517 but it is mentioned in the Court rulings and AG opinion defining case law noting that signature gathering is not currently allowed at all stores but instead only those deemed to be a public square.

Under Supreme Court rulings there is no 1st Amendment right (speech) to private property; the question of access is under the state's constitutional provision concerning the right of initiative and how far that right extends.

As I noted in my post, should I-517 pass, lawmakers should adhere to the promises of I-517 sponsors that their intent was not to change this current case law despite the clear language of the text trying to apply access to "any store."

Fire Jason

Strip malls are NOT private property. Period. My House is private. The Strip mall is not. Period.

Speech is speech. We can speak freely in public.

The intent of the language is clear, ANY store means ANY store. Reasonable time, place and manner now applied to ALL STORES.

There is NO question of intent, it is not vague in any way.


You're calling for someone to be fired but you don't even have the courage to use your real name? Now that's what I call classy.