Washington State Senators Honored For Defeating Restrictive Initiative Bill

Wed, Mar 23 2011

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented Washington state senators Don Benton and Pam Roach with the March 2011 John Lilburne Award for their outstanding work in successfully defeating Senate Bill 5297, legislation that would have severely restricted Washington’s initiative process.

“Good riddance to SB 5297, which would have been a disaster for Washington’s initiative process,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob. “Both Senator Don Benton and Senator Pam Roach deserve a ton of the credit for defeating it.”

SB 5297 required all petition signature gatherers to register with the Secretary of State; those who failed to register would face a fine. It also increased the initiative filing fee from $5 to $500.

Senators Benton and Roach offered almost 20 amendments to the bill both in committee and on the senate floor, exposing the ridiculous restrictions it would place on the initiative process. For example, one amendment offered by Benton and Roach required lawmakers to pay $500 for each piece of legislation they wanted to propose. Although SB 5297 made it to the senator floor, due to Benton and Roach’s numerous amendments, the bill was defeated and never came up for a full vote.

“Without the hard work of Senators Benton and Roach, Washington’s citizen initiative process would have been undermined,” Jacob added. “Don and Pam deserve recognition for their efforts that were both smart and successful in defeating this terrible bill, and for that we are happy to honor them with this month’s Lilburne Award.”

A poll commissioned in the summer of 2010 by the Citizens in Charge and Citizens in Charge Foundation found that Washington voters favor having a statewide initiative process by a roughly four-to-one margin.

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, group of citizens or organization doing the most to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans.  John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse. For a complete list of past Lilburne Award winners please click here.

Citizens in Charge Foundation is the only national transpartisan voter rights group dedicated to protecting and expanding the ballot initiative and referendum process without regard to partisanship and politics. We believe good government starts with the voter. For more information visit us at: www.CitizensInChargeFoundation.org.