Leave it to Washington State’s deep blue leadership to follow President Obama’s lead in the misuse of regulatory power. A newly proposed Senate Bill, SB 5012 sponsored by Seattle Democrats Scott White and Adam Kline, gives instructions to reviewing courts that they must give deference to a critical land use hearings board during appeals. How’s that for a power grab?
Whatever Washingtonians think of the State’s Growth Management Act, its current form establishes a Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB), a governor appointed board of 7 experts in land use planning and law. The GMHB is empowered to hear petitions alleging non-compliance with the Act and determines findings enforceable by law. If there is any saving grace for the people in this, it’s that the GMHB is required to give deference to local planning decisions, and all findings may be appealed to the courts. Because there is deference to local decision makers from the beginning, the power of decision-making is tilted toward communities and the people. As it should be, the State has the burden of proof to overcome appeal. That is the way it is now.
Passage of SB 5012 would literally flip deference and the relationship between the State and communities on its head. The proposed bill instructs the court to give deference to the GMHB (the State) in the event of an appeal and takes the benefit of deference away from the people. This tilts the standards of decision-making dramatically in favor of State power and pushes the increased burden of proof for appeal inappropriately on local communities who will be cash strapped to afford challenges. The politically appointed hearings board would soon have an incredible amount of leverage with the judiciary instructed to support them, and this is just the wrong direction for burdens of proof to migrate in a free society.
In an additional insult, the bill strips language from existing law emphasizing that “a county’s or city’s future rests with that community.” It appears the State now seeks to decide with deference to itself how to plan a county or city’s future. Sound familiar in the other Washington?
By instructing the court to give deference to the State, SB 5012 destroys the balance of power so necessary to the preservation of our Republic. It elevates the GMHB as a State committee of regulatory Czars appointed by the Governor, answerable only to the Governor, and protected by the judiciary. This sounds a whole lot like the other Washington and its regulatory agencies to me.
Washington State Democrats seem all too willing to follow Washington D.C.’s bad examples.
[edited from my original post Czars in the Making – SB 5012 and the GMA]