Democratic state legislators in Washington State are taking aim at changing the state ballot initiative process, all because of numerous successes of perennial anti-tax advocate Tim Eyman, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported today.
While P-I reporter Brian Slodysko did an overall good job reporting the controversy, including how critics think the legislature could be overreaching in their "reform" efforts, this portion proved a bit vexing (emphasis mine):
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, has the backing of a coalition of organized labor, business interests and environmental groups, who say special interest groups have co-opted the state's initiative and referendum process from its populist origins.
"Up until the late '80s, almost into the start of the '90s, (the initiative process) was a populist grass-roots effort. At this point in time, it became professionalized. We felt obligated to defend the Legislature," Jim Bricker, a spokesman for the coalition, said.
So wait, labor unions, business groups, and environmental groups are NOT special interests? Isn't the definition of a special interest group that it advocates something that is of, well, special interest to a special constituency? What's more, Bricker's statement about the ballot initiative being "professionalized" is laughable given the professional full-time advocates any major interest group hires for political organizing purposes, including pushing state ballot initiatives, yet Slodysko didn't challenge that talking point.
And since when have anti-tax ballot measures, which apparently do pretty well even in liberal Washington State, not meet the definition of populism? Indeed, isn't it arguable that measures to curb taxes have a broader-based appeal that measures being pushed by a labor union or an environmental lobby?