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Evergreen Freedom Foundation

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The Evergreen Freedom Foundation is a private, non-profit policy analysis organization based in Washington.

According to its website, the mission of the group is to "advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government."

It focuses on five policy areas: labor policy, economic policy, citizenship & governance, education reform, and property rights.

Position on initiative rights and the emergency clause

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation advocates a position on initiative rights that says, "These rights should not be unduly burdened with regulations on the petition process, nor undermined by misuse of the emergency clause."[1]

In 2007, the foundation released a study, "Where's the Emergency?" about the Washington state legislature's use of the emergency clause in that state's direct democracy laws.[2] The study noted that in 2007, 11% of all bills introduced in the legislature contained an emergency clause. When a bill with an emergency clause is passed, the law goes into effect immediately. Washington is a state with veto referendum, which means that the citizens of the state can veto any bill passed by the legislature by collecting signatures to put the disputed law on the statewide ballot. However, when a bill has an emergency clause attached, the law goes into effect immediately and citizens cannot prevent the law from going into effect through the standard process of a veto referendum.

Labor policy

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation has focused a significant amount of effort since 2000 in lawsuits and legal policy fighting a requirement that union fees are mandatory.[3]

Citizenship and governance; transparency

The foundation has argued in favor of greater transparency on the part of the state of Washington government, and criticized a January 2008 judicial ruling that allowed emails produced on public computers by government employees to remain private.[4] The Evergreen Freedom Foundation criticized the Seattle Public Schools district for failing to engage an effective legal defense when a local teachers' union fought against disclosure of the records.[5]

The foundation has also issued reports expressing concern about the integrity of the voting system in the state.[6]

Washington now incorporates some elements of its state spending online, as a result of the 2008 passage of SB 6818. According to Andrew Moylan of EFF, "Accountability in government is not a left or right issue -- it's a right or wrong issue."[7]

The state's labor unions may have to disclose to their members how their money is spent.[8]

Audits of government spending, accountability

With the passage of the Tim Eyman-sponsored I-900 in 2005, one one-hundredth of 1 percent of the state sales tax is dedicated to pay for accountability and performance audits of state and local government agencies.[9] Democrats in the state senate sponsored legislation in spring 2008 to reimburse educational service districts and school districts for the costs they incur in providing needed information for the new state auditor's agency to perform its audits.

Amber Gunn, a spokesperson for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation , said "It is bad public policy to single out one agency to get special treatment because it opens up the door for other agencies to come in and ask for funds." She also described the bill as a raid on the auditor's funds.

Audits to meet state's budget shortfall

When Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, took office as Washington's governor after the November 2006 elections, Washington had a $1.2 billion budget surplus. In late 2007, the state's budget office was projecting a $2.4 billion shortfall--all-in-all, a $3.6 billion shift in the losing direction. The state faced a $600 million deficit by 2009.

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation noted that nine recent state-sponsored audits of government agencies in the state have identified $3.3 billion in potential cost savings.[10]

Washington's ferry system

A project the Evergreen Freedom Foundation embarked on in early 2008 was to call for an audit of the state's troubled ferry system.[11]

In April 2010, the EFF filed suit agains the Washington State Department of Transportation over its refusal to release the drug and alcohol testing results of the crew of the M/V Wenatchee after it crashed into Seattle's Coleman dock.[12] The EFF also produced a video explaining the suit.

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Additional reading