Seaquist’s ‘better democracy’ isn’t

For the Independent

When we kicked off the signature drive for this year’s initiative I-1125, I highlighted the fact that the Legislature, led by 26th District Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) overrode I-1053 and re-empowered Gov. Christine Gregoire’s Transportation Commission to impose tolls.

Last year’s I-1053 required the elected representatives of the Legislature, and not unelected bureaucrats hand-picked by Gregoire, to set tolls and ferry fares.

In response, Seaquist said that the process of letting unelected bureaucrats impose tolls was “better democracy.”

How is it better democracy for the elected representatives of the Legislature to avoid responsibility and accountability?

Seaquist went on to say that having unelected bureaucrats decide on tolls and ferry fares “allows for far more public input than what a legislator can take the time to do.”

Isn’t the legislative process better because citizens get to communicate directly with the people they elected?

There’s nothing government does that has more impact on people’s lives than its decision to take more of the people’s money.

Such a hugely impactful decision must be made by the people we elect because they will have to take into account the thoughts and beliefs of the people who elected them.

Elected representatives must be more responsive to the people because they can be held accountable for their votes at the ballot box.

Unelected bureaucrats cannot.

It is disturbing that an elected official thinks it’s “better democracy” when taxing decisions are made outside the checks-and-balances of the legislative process.

That is, by definition, taxation without representation, which is a blatant violation of our country’s most cherished principles.

Our initiative this year — I-1125 — resurrects I-1053’s policy that the Legislature, and not Gregoire’s Transportation Commission, set tolls.  Under I-1125, the Transportation Commission can still take public testimony and make recommendations, but the final decision needs to be made by the elected representatives of the Legislature.

That’s exactly what I-1053 required, and we believe that it is “better democracy” to actually do what voters instructed.

Tim Eyman is a resident of Mukilteo and the author of numerous tax-cutting, regulation-limiting ballot initiatives.

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