Ballot measure has huge constitutional flaws
OLYMPIA, Wash., Feb. 16, 2017— A lawsuit filed February 15 in Kittitas County Superior Court calls for invalidation of Initiative 1433 because it covered multiple regulatory topics and failed to include vital language—both in violation of the Washington Constitution.
“We are on solid constitutional ground in our lawsuit,” said Patrick Connor, Washington State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business, one of the business groups seeking to invalidate I-1433. “One need not be a lawyer to see the huge flaws in this initiative.”
NFIB is joined in the lawsuit by the Northwest Food Processors Association, the Washington Farm Bureau, the Washington Food Industry Association, and the Washington Retail Association.
Passed by voters November 8, I-1433 calls for both an increase in the state’s minimum-wage rate in stages up to 2020 and for unrelated changes in the state’s sick and family leave provisions.
But as stated in the lawsuit, Haberman v. Washington, “I-1433 violates article II, [Section] 19 of the Washington Constitution by containing more than a single subject, and by failing to adequately describe the measure’s content in its title. The initiative also failed to comply with article II, [Section] 37 because its provision relating to sick and family leave effectively amended statutes relating to those issues without specifically identifying them.”
The voters were put in a bind, the lawsuit claims. “Voters who were interested in a minimum wage rate increase were compelled to accept fundamental policy changes in Washington’s leave statutes in the bargain, or vice versa. As stated in Lee [Lee v. State], ‘neither subject was necessary to implement the other,’ … That is constitutionally unacceptable.”
Added Connor, “The architects of Initiative 1433 had to know their handiwork would be challenged. They are counting on a sympathetic court looking the other way. But existing precedent is clear: It’s not enough to argue that minimum wage and paid leave policies fall under the general umbrella of labor law; they must show that the issues are actually germane to each other.”
For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.
National Federation of Independent Business/Washington
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Olympia, WA 98501