Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: May 2, 2011 12:08:31 PM PDT
Panel to Discuss Legislature's Role with Citizen Initiatives on May 17
Discussion at City Hall to include Todd Donovan, Tim Eyman, Hugh Spitzer

Contacts: Dan Raas, Raas, Johnsen & Stuen, P.S., (360) 647-0234; Danraas@comcast.net; WWU University Communications, (360) 650-3350

BELLINGHAM – A panel discussion with Western Washington University professor Todd Donovan, initiative activist Tim Eyman, and Hugh Spitzer, an affiliate professor of law at the University of Washington, will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17 at Bellingham City Hall Council Chambers, 210 Lottie St.

The panel discussion is titled: “When is an initiative not the will of the people? A discussion of the Legislature’s role in dealing with citizen initiatives.” The event is free and open to the public. It is one in a series of events organized by the Whatcom County Bar Association’s Community Law Education Committee. This panel discussion is also sponsored by the Center for Law, Diversity and Justice at Western’s Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, and by the City of Bellingham.

The initiative process has been part of Washington's political scene since 1911.  It has been used to address important issues, including the regulation of fisheries, shoreline management, disclosure of public records and taxes. This forum will explore the Legislature’s response to initiatives that have been approved by public vote.

The three panelists will bring their unique knowledge and perspectives to discuss the initiative process, its origins, accomplishments, and how the Legislature has dealt with initiatives both in the past and currently. Whatcom County Bar Association President Doug Robertson will moderate the discussion. The public is encouraged to join in a robust discussion.

The panel discussion will be filmed by the City of Bellingham and air on BTV10 and the City website.  Check the BTV10 schedule after the event for exact dates/times:  http://www.cob.org/services/education/btv10/index.aspx\

Todd Donovan is a professor of political science at WWU. He has published numerous works on the U. S. political system addressing local, state and federal issues. He also lectures extensively on these topics. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from California State University in Sacramento and his master’s and doctorate degrees in political science from the University of California-Riverside.

Tim Eyman has co-sponsored numerous initiatives over the past 12 years, including limits on car tab taxes, property taxes, performance audits, a two-thirds majority requirement for the legislature to raise taxes, and protecting the initiative process. He was born and raised in Yakima, earned a business degree from Washington State University and works full-time as a political activist.

Hugh Spitzer is an affiliate professor of law at the University of Washington, where he teaches U. S. constitutional law, state constitutional law, and local government law. He has published widely on local government law and state constitutional law topics, including a book (with Robert Utter), “The Washington State Constitution: A Reference Guide (2002).” He also works as a public finance lawyer at Foster Pepper PLLC. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale University, his J.D. from the University of Washington Law School, and his master’s of law from the University of California Law School at Berkeley.

Moderator Doug Robertson is a partner at Belcher Swanson, PLLC, where he represents clients regarding real estate matters, civil transactions and litigation. In addition, he donates his time to a variety of local civic organizations. Robertson graduated from Lewis and Clark College in Portland and received his J.D. from the Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Ore.


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