Note: This is part of a series.
When lawyers read Initiative 933’s definition of “property,” they tend to fall out of their chairs in astonishment. That’s because, according to its own definition, I-933 will apply to “all real and personal property protected by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 16 of the Washington Constitution owned by a non-governmental entity…”
The lay person may read: “blah, blah, blah.” But lawyers read: “sheer pandemonium.”
If you don’t specialize in reading legal-ese, the upshot of I-933’s definition is that the initiative applies not only to real estate or land use, but to nearly all forms of property. Its reach encompasses stocks, bonds, minteral rights, water rights, cars, trucks, boats, factory equipment, livestock, intellectual property, software, music recordings, contracts, promissory notes, household appliances, your cat and dog, the novel you’re working on, and even the kitchen sink. No joke.
Under I-933’s definition of property, almost every last item of personal property will be subject to “pay or waive.” If a regulation diminishes the economic potential of your property—whether it’s your city lot, your parakeet, your Camaro, or your mutual funds—you’re entitled to full taxpayer compensation for the “lost” revenue. Either that or you get a free pass from the law.
The consequences of I-933’s drastic overreach are so stunning that it’s practically absurd. In fact, some of the top legal minds in Washington are agape. One prominent attorney has written a memo that, in the restrained style of legal analysis, says, “The reach of I-933 into state regulations affecting the use of value of private property which is not real property is a highly unique and unpredictable feature of this initiative.”
You can say that again.