Frequently Asked Questions

What is Initiative Measure 103? Measure 103 is a citizen’s initiative in Seattle to elevate peoples’ rights above corporate rights and put an end to corporate personhood and other legal privileges corporations use to overrule communities in our democracy. Read the initiative.

What does Measure 103 do? If enacted, the measure would prohibit corporations from making political contributions or lobbying, end corporate personhood and close the revolving door between elected officials and corporations impacted by their lawmaking. The measure would establish community rights to fair elections, clean government, self-government, citizen oversight of the police, rights for neighborhoods to approve zoning changes, Constitutional rights for workers, rights for nature to protect Puget Sound, our resident Orca pods and salmon runs and legislate status quo network neutrality.

How can I help place Measure 103 on the ballot? Sign the petition, volunteercontribute fundsjoin our Facebook page and sign up for our mailing list.

Does Measure 103 comply with the single-subject rule for initiatives? Yes, we believe it does. Read our complete response here.

How can I contact Envision Seattle? Email us or write us here: at Envision Seattle, 4909 Purdue Ave. NE, Seattle, Wa. 98105.

Are other communities beside Seattle trying to end corporate rights? Yes, Measure 103 is part of an emerging statewide and national effort to place peoples’ rights above corporate rights and eliminate corporate personhood. Over 100 communities in the United States have passed similar laws to protect and advocate for residents, neighborhoods, and the environment. Recently, both Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York passed Bills of Rights recognizing nature’s rights, local self-government, and limiting corporate power to override community health and welfare. Similar efforts at passing ballot initiatives are active in Bellingham and Spokane.

Why are corporations and business entities singled out?  Under the current system of law, corporations and business entities are protected by certain constitutionally-based legal rights, which enable those entities to routinely violate the rights of people and communities. Among other rights that have been obtained by corporations is the right to be recognized as a “person” under the federal Bill of Rights. That means that a corporation can avoid enforcement of local laws that seek to hold them responsible for their actions. This measure mandates that when corporate rights conflict with the rights of communities and people, that corporate rights will always be subordinated to the rights of people in Seattle. See also Why Abolish All Corporate Constitutional Rights (via POCLAD).

Doesn’t federal law control what rights corporations have? Under current federal law, corporations have been bestowed rights by the federal courts that routinely enable those corporations to override community lawmaking. The status of current federal law is that corporations possess that ability. This provision constitutes an open challenge to that federal law, and with its passage, Seattle would join other municipalities in seeking to change that law. How Things Change provides historical background for the aggregation of corporate “constitutional” rights and an example of a Washington State law changing the Supreme Court’s interpretation of minimum wage laws.

How is Measure 103 different than Move to Amend and the recent Los Angeles City Council Resolution against Corporate Personhood? Whereas the Los Angeles City Council resolution is largely symbolic, Measure 103 will make law that ends corporate personhood in Seattle by early 2013. Furthermore, we believe that efforts to strip corporate personhood don’t address broader corporate legal power such as corporate use of state and federal permits and laws to overturn community democracies. Measure 103 also strips corporations of these legal privileges and elevates core rights of people above community rights. On the other hand, Move to Amend is a longer term national effort to amend our Constitution that relies on the actions by state and federal officials whom we know are compromised by corporate spending on elections. Measure 103 mirrors ongoing efforts in other cities such as Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Spokane and Bellingham to push grassroots local legislation to restrain corporate power in our communities now. Here’s a more detailed explanation of these issues and how Initiative 103 differs from Move to Amend.

How will citizen oversight of the Seattle Police Department work under this initiative? Seattle’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) already exists today to oversee the police department. However, the OPA reports to the Police Chief. This measure would move OPA to report directly to the Mayor, outside the reporting chain of command of the Seattle Police Department.

Why do neighborhoods need rights? Today, residents in Seattle neighborhoods don’t control how their neighborhoods are developed.  This measure would give residents decision-making power on zoning changes for significant development in their neighborhoods.

How does I103 prevent neighborhood rights from being abused by minority groups pushing a NIMBY (not in my backyard) agenda? Section 4(g) is about making sure that a simple majority of neighborhood residents would have final say on whether or not a project of significant size is approved. This amendment elevates the rights of those neighborhood residents above corporate developers since they are the ones who will be impacted by these projects and it excludes governmental projects related to the development of transit or public health and safety. Read more.

Don’t we already have Constitutional rights in the workplace? No, at least not in private workplaces. In those workplaces, you are stripped of your constitutional Bill of Rights protections when you cross the threshold into work. It’s why employers may force you to attend non-work related meetings (called “captive audience” meetings) and why they can interfere with efforts to unionize the workplace. This part of the initiative would restore constitutional protections to workers in the workplace along with protecting union’s right to collective bargaining.

What is network neutrality? Network neutrality is a principle that advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers or governments on consumers’ access to networks that participate in the Internet. Today, there is nothing stopping CenturyLink/Qwest or Xfinity/Comcast or other Internet providers from slowing down distribution of web content from publishers that aren’t paying additional fees to them for the fastest pipeline. This measure makes status quo network neutrality law in Seattle.

What are rights for nature and why do we need them? Under our system of government, nature is treated as property. Only property owners can receive compensation when their property is damaged. This system has led to the ongoing devastation of Puget Sound, our resident Orca pods – predicted to go extinct by the end of the century and local salmon runs. This measure grants powers to the city to proactively protect and preserve our ecosystem for present and future Seattle residents.

How will this initiative be enforced? This measure grants authority to the City of Seattle or any city resident to enforce the rights of this initiative in a Court of law.

Does I103 impact nonprofit organizations’ ability to promote school or public health levies? Yes, it will. Please read our detailed response.

Where can I learn more about Democracy School? Visit the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s Democracy School page and watch this video of the first night of the February 2011 Democracy School in Seattle.

Where can I register to vote in Seattle? Visit the King County Voter Registration website.