I-1501 – The Trojan Horse Initiative

I-1501 is an unnecessary bill that doesn’t do much of anything, except benefit unions and special interests.

I strongly urge a NO vote on this Trojan Horse initiative. It uses public sympathy for victims of identity theft to pass a highly specific union-backed policy change. Several bills incorporating that same mandate were introduced in the state legislature, but failed to pass. The people of Washington should accept the judgment of their elected representatives, and vote down this dangerous initiative.

Identity theft is already criminalized. Identity thieves already face high penalties, no matter the age of their victims. Identity theft is already a class C felony. If identity theft involves obtaining $1500 or more, the crime becomes a class B felony.

The initiative only changes the status quo very slightly – it makes identity theft targeting seniors and ‘vulnerable individuals’ a class B felony regardless of the amount stolen.

Class C felons risk five years’ imprisonment and ten thousand dollars in fines. Class B felons risk double that.

No evidence shows that further increasing the penalties will deter identity thieves. Identity thieves have already shown themselves willing to break the law, even when doing so risks hefty criminal and civil penalties.

At the outset, it is clear that there is no pressing need for this initiative. Its benefits are severely limited. The Washington Policy Center points out that this “proposal seems to ban fraud activities that are already illegal.”

If any evidence does exist, showing that this bill would ameliorate the identity theft situation, the proper body to weigh that evidence is the state legislature. Not the people.

The very purpose for the legislature’s existence is to handle legislative matters of this nature (hence the name). Our legislators were elected for the sole purpose of dealing with bills like I-1501.

Our legislators are equipped with an extensive process to determine the merits and downsides to any bill they are presented with. That process includes endless hearings, committee meetings, caucuses, constituent meetings, and much more.

The people don’t have that process. Rarely does a voter spend any real amount of time to consider the ballot measures.

They also have the ability to amend bills before they are passed. Suppose the legislators find that I-1501’s proposals are great in theory, but unworkable in practice. If the bill was introduced in the state legislature, our legislators could amend the bill to fix the implementation, while retaining the original concept.

The people don’t have that luxury. They can only vote Yes or No.

The people as a whole simply aren’t equipped to weigh the impacts of a very specific policy plan like I-1501. The average voter spends maybe a minute or less considering each initiative on their ballot. (That statistic was totally made up on the spot, but it’s pretty accurate, if you think about it.)

That leads to another problem.

The legislature has, in fact, already considered what independent analysts have concluded is the underlying purpose of I-1501.

Independent organizations like the Washington Policy Center have parsed the complete text of I-1501, researched the funding of the For campaign, and done detailed analysis on their findings. They have found that I-1501 carries a hidden mandate, that is intended to ride to passage on the wave of public sympathy for identity theft victims.

Washington Policy Center says that I-1501’s hidden mandate “only serves the narrow interest of one union that is seeking to gain financial benefit from exclusive access to public information.” Its findings are detailed in the link below.

Citizens Guide to Initiative 1501: to change the state’s public records act to further the special interests of organized labor

Legislative records uncovered by the 1501 Truth campaign reveal that the state legislature has already considered similar proposals, and rejected them.

Why?

Because the legislature recognizes that state public records law should not be fundamentally altered to benefit special interests, at the expense of Washingtonian workers.

Actually, that’s a misnomer. This law is not advanced by special interests, plural. It’s advanced by one union, singular; namely, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The Washington Policy Center has also found that this initiative would “weaken the public’s right to access the public information that keep our government open and accountable.”

In sum, I urge you to vote against I-1501 for three reasons. First, because its proposed identity theft reforms are unneeded. Second, because it carries, Trojan Horse-esque, a hidden mandate that has already been considered and rejected by the state legislature. Third, because that same mandate benefits special interest(s) at the expense of hard-working Washingtonians.

Header photo origin unknown. Used under the fair use doctrine for nonprofit educational purposes.


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