Point: Opponents of Eyman initiative don't trust the voters

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Tim Eyman

Last month, Initiative 1366 qualified for the November ballot, which seeks to instate a two-thirds requirement for any new taxes passed by Washington Legislature. Voters have approved such initiatives in the past, but the state Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional two years ago. In reaction to this latest initiative, opponents have filed a lawsuit to keep it off the ballot, calling it an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court and alter the state constitution.

In response to the lawsuit, there will be a hearing on Friday, August 14. Beforehand, we are providing a forum for both sides to present a public case. Tim Eyman's side can be found below. For a rebuttal by opponents, click here

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Opponents of Initiative 1366 are incredibly frustrated.

Over the years, they’ve spent millions upon millions of dollars trying to convince the voters to reject numerous tougher-to-raise-taxes initiatives.  Over and over again, they’ve only been able to get about a third of the electorate to agree with them that it should be easy to raise taxes while almost two-thirds of voters want it to be tougher.

In their desperation, this year they’ve devised a new approach:  preventing the people from voting at all.  They’ve filed a lawsuit to remove I-1366 from the ballot.

If opponents thought they would prevail in November, they wouldn’t be so frantic and so hysterical to stop the vote. Fortunately for the voters, the First Amendment is still around.

The state supreme court has repeatedly and unanimously rejected lawsuits just like this one. Why?  "Because ballot measures are often used to express popular will and to send a message to elected representatives, preelection review unduly infringes on free speech values."  That was from their unanimous ruling in 2005.

From their follow-up unanimous ruling in 2007:  "Preelection review of initiative measures is highly disfavored.  The fundamental reason is that 'the right of initiative is nearly as old as our constitution itself, deeply ingrained in our state's history, and widely revered as a powerful check and balance on the other branches of government.'   Given the preeminence of the initiative right, preelection challenges to the substantive validity of initiatives are particularly disallowed.  Such review, if engaged in, would involve the court in rendering advisory opinions, would violate ripeness requirements, would undermine the policy of avoiding unnecessary constitutional questions, and would constitute unwarranted judicial meddling with the legislative process.”

Courts rule on approved laws; they don’t prevent discussion or debate of proposed laws. Undeterred, opponents of I-1366 are asking the court to reverse itself.  Let’s hope they fail.

We're very proud of I-1366.  We worked hard to draft it carefully, in full compliance with, and mindful of, our state's laws, Constitution, and recent court rulings.

I-1366's proposed policies are well within the purview of the initiative process.  For decades, there have been initiatives addressing taxes.  For opponents to claim that I-1366 is not a legitimate initiative for the voters to consider is insulting.  The voters are perfectly capable of understanding I-1366's policies and they do not need opponents’ condescending censorship.

Five times the voters have approved initiatives requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or majority vote of the people to raise taxes.  Five times.  In 2012, nearly two-thirds of voters approved it.  It got more votes than any initiative in state history.  It passed in every county, including King.  I-1366 is called the Taxpayer Protection Act; this year's tax-obsessed Legislature vividly illustrates why it's necessary.

Opponents have mischaracterized many aspects of I-1366.  Their legal brief is filled with inaccuracies.  We're looking forward to exposing their errors in court.

We are especially amused with their assertion that the vote on I-1366 harms the King County Elections Director, supposedly giving her standing to sue the voters.  There's going to be an election in November and Sherril Huff's job is no tougher or more expensive with I-1366 on the ballot.

No one is irreparably harmed by a public vote on an initiative.

I-1366 has qualified for the ballot.  In Washington’s 100 year initiative history, the courts have never – not once – prevented the people from voting on a statewide initiative that turned in the required number of signatures and was certified by the Secretary of State.  The voters are constitutionally guaranteed the right to discuss, debate, and vote on I-1366.  That right should not be taken away by anyone, especially our opponents who clearly don't trust the voters.

  

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About the Authors & Contributors

tim eyman

tim eyman

Tim Eyman is a longtime initiative activist who lives in Mukilteo with his wife Karen and three kids. He can be reached at tim_eyman@comcast.net.