C Michael Pickens
Originally published on the Libertarian Party of Washington website on August 8, 2013:
C Michael Pickens, Executive Director for the Libertarian Party of Washington State
There was an initiative just placed on the November ballot in Seatac,a Washington city of 29,000 residents. The residents turned in 2,506 signed petitions to allow the “ORDINANCE SETTING MINIMUM EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS FOR HOSPITALITY AND TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY EMPLOYERS” initiative to be voted on by Seatac residents.
This ordinance, if accepted by voters, would set the minimum wage at $15 an hour for those employed by a hotel, restaurant, fast food establishment, bar, spa, caterer, airline, or any other aviation-related company within the City of Seatac. It would also establish yearly pay increases tied to the rate of inflation.
This article is not actually about the pros or cons of this initiative. This article is not about how there will be a new “seniority standard” set for these industries very similar to the government run education “teacher tenure” laws or how prices for goods and services for these industries will experience a sharp rise. Nope, this article isn’t even about how low-skilled workers will a have a harder time entering the job market. Nope, this article is about what little effort it took for a new community organization called “Future for Seatac” to get this ordinance on the ballot and up for a vote.
“Future for Seatac” utilized the local initiative process that requires at least 1,500 petition signatures from residents of the city to put an initiative on the ballot. They were able to collect 2,506 signatures, of which only 1,579 were valid.
There are currently 61 cities and 6 counties in Washington that have a local initiative process where the people can petition to have legislation put on the local ballot. You can find the list here.
This gets me thinking…why aren’t we running pro-liberty initiatives at the local level to make our own cities more free and prosperous?
Here is a short list of initiatives we can run to do just that:
- Single Member Districts: Go from at-large elections to single-member districts to give citizens better representation and lower the cost for liberty candidates to run for office by decreasing the amount of citizens a candidate needs to reach.
- Randomized Citizen Districting Committee: Establish a districting committee of citizens to draw districts.
- More Districts/Lower Salaries/Fewer Staff: Increase the number of representatives, decrease their salaries, and progressively get rid of staff members.
- Shorten Political Terms: Four-year terms being too long, move to 2-year terms, then 1-year terms.
- Sun-setting of Taxes: Make it so all taxes must be re-voted every 8 years.
- Open Meeting Laws: Make sure that strict open meeting laws are followed and that meetings are not held during normal working hours. That way, the working citizens can attend meetings without having to miss work.
- Ability to hold political candidate events in public parks: Promote changing current Washington State Election Law, under which political candidates are not allowed to assemble and hold campaign events in public parks. This makes organizing for grassroots candidates more difficult and is discriminatory.
As Libertarians, we must start taking advantage of the initiative process! Our opposition clearly has done so. It won’t be easy at first because every local liberty initiative will be started by one person. A single person in each one of the 61 cities will have to step up, lead the charge, and rally their neighbors (and neighbors of neighbors!) to join them.
If you are curious about how to start a local movement that can take back our government and advance liberty, I highly recommend watching this video called “First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy.”
A series of liberty activist training workshops have already begun in Washington. They are being facilitated by the Center for Self Governance. The Level 1 course is designed to introduce the concepts surrounding self-governance and civic authority while bringing everyone up to a common level of knowledge regarding our role in exercising our civic responsibilities and authority. Three Level 1 courses will be held on these dates at the following locations:
Panhandle Health Building 322 Marion Sandpoint, ID 83864 (near Spokane)
WECU Ferndale 5659 Pacific Hwy Ferndale, WA (WhatcomCounty near Bellingham)
Valley Covenant Community Church 115 Glen St, Zillah, WA 98953(YakimaCounty near Yakima)
There will be many more courses scheduled in the near future. If you would like such a workshop scheduled and promoted in your area,please fill out this form here.
It’s time we take back our local government! Let’s start running local liberty initiatives and vote on legislation that will take back the liberties that have been stolen from us. When we work together, we can do it! We just have to begin with one step.
“The mission of the Libertarian Party of Washington is to advance liberty by electing Libertarians and passing legislation that will reduce the size and scope of intrusive government.”