We are part of an alliance – the Alliance for a Competitive Economy, to be precise – that asked a judge last week to determine whether two initiatives slated to be on this fall’s ballot in the City of Spokane are constitutional.
Let’s look at the two initiatives and explain why they might be unconstitutional:
Envision Spokane’s “Community Bill of Rights”
It might be unconstitutional because…..
…..it goes beyond the scope of local government.
For one thing, the initiative – if it passes – would grant all employees that work within the City of Spokane collective bargaining rights for unionized workplaces, among other “rights.” The problem with that is state and national labor laws govern collective bargaining rights – not local municipalities.
The initiative also calls for corporations and incorporated nonprofits to not be considered “persons” with the same legal rights. The problem with this is the U.S. Supreme Court has already declared corporations and incorporated nonprofits to have the same rights as people.
The initiative would also require neighborhoods to approve proposed developments and would allow human beings the power to file a lawsuit on behalf of the Spokane River.
Last year, two courts ruled a similar initiative was unconstitutional in Bellingham, Wash.
Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution’s “Voter Bill of Rights”
It might be unconstitutional because …..
…..it limits free speech.
The initiative would ban representatives from corporations and incorporated nonprofits to speak privately outside of a public forum with an elected official that represents the City of Spokane regarding a piece of legislation. That’s a problem, not only because less communication with elected officials is bad, but because it severely limits free speech, plain and simple.
If a judge rules these initiatives to be unconstitutional, then the alliance will take action to remove the initiatives from this fall’s ballot because residents of the City of Spokane should not be asked to vote on items that are unconstitutional.
There are a lot of reasons why these two initiatives are bad for business, but that’s a blog for another day. For now, we await the judge’s ruling and we’ll move on from there.