Now that the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court has ruled, at long last, that the main pro­vi­sion of Tim Eyman’s I‑601 clones is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and void, it’s time for us to update Tim Eyman’s Fail­ure Chart. The Fail­ure Chart is a handy resource that we main­tain over at Per­ma­nent Defense which shows that most of the ini­tia­tives Tim Eyman has spon­sored over the years have failed… to get on the bal­lot, to be approved by vot­ers, or to pass con­sti­tu­tion­al muster.

We use a sim­ple test to deter­mine whether an Eyman mea­sure is list­ed as a suc­cess or fail­ure. We ask two ques­tions when eval­u­at­ing each initiative:

  1. Did the ini­tia­tive pass and sur­vive any legal challenges?
  2. Did the ini­tia­tive accom­plish its main intent as stat­ed by Eyman?

Of the eigh­teen mea­sures on the chart that Eyman has spon­sored and qual­i­fied for the bal­lot, fif­teen were clas­si­fied as fail­ures pri­or to this morn­ing, with just three clas­si­fied as suc­cess­es. Now that we have the Supreme Court’s rul­ing in hand, we can change the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of I‑1053 (2010) and I‑1185 (2012) to FAILURE, leav­ing I‑900 (2005; per­for­mance audits) as Eyman’s only success.

Here is a pre­cise break­down of the ini­tia­tives so you can see for your­self why we clas­si­fy sev­en­teen of the eigh­teen mea­sures as failures:

  • Failed to qual­i­fy for the bal­lot (five): I‑267 (2002); I‑807 (2003); I‑864 (2004); I‑917 (2006); Ref­er­en­dum 65 (2006)
  • Defeat­ed by vot­ers (five): I‑745 (2000); I‑892 (2004); I‑985 (2008); I‑1033 (2009); I‑1125 (2011)
  • Void­ed com­plete­ly by the courts (three): I‑695 (1999); I‑722 (2000); I‑747 (2001)
  • Void­ed par­tial­ly by the courts (four): I‑776 (2002); I‑960 (2007); I‑1053 (2010); I‑1185 (2012)
  • Remains on the books, nev­er chal­lenged (one): I‑900 (2005)

It is not an acci­dent that so many of Tim Eyman’s ini­tia­tives have been suc­cess­ful­ly chal­lenged in court. We rarely review an Eyman ini­tia­tive that we would­n’t describe as poor­ly writ­ten or uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. And that’s because Eyman is ter­ri­ble at writ­ing law. He does­n’t even come up with his own ideas… instead, he recy­cles schemes cooked up by right wing think tanks and promi­nent Republicans.

I‑807/I‑960/I‑1053/I‑1185 are based on Lin­da Smith’s I‑601, for instance. Eyman got the idea to do I‑695 from Vir­gini­a’s Jim Gilmore, and he import­ed I‑1033 from Col­orado. Iron­i­cal­ly, it was Eyman’s No. 1 all-time wealthy bene­fac­tor, Michael Dun­mire, who con­vinced him to spon­sor the ini­tia­tive that now stands as his only suc­cess: I‑900.(Dunmire also put up the mon­ey to get I‑900 on the ballot).

Writ­ing laws that work well, are com­pat­i­ble with our plan of gov­ern­ment, and can with­stand the scruti­ny of the judi­cial sys­tem is very dif­fi­cult to do. Care, thought, pre­ci­sion, and patience are required.

That is why the leg­isla­tive process is so slow and delib­er­a­tive in nature. Bills going through the Leg­is­la­ture are sub­ject to pub­lic hear­ings in mul­ti­ple com­mit­tees and are fre­quent­ly amend­ed (or even replaced in their entire­ty) pri­or to receiv­ing a vote on the floor. All law­mak­ers have leg­isla­tive assis­tants to help them do their jobs, and pro­fes­sion­al staff to advise and sup­port their work.

Most peo­ple who run for Leg­is­la­ture do so because they gen­uine­ly want to make Wash­ing­ton a bet­ter place to live, work, wor­ship, and play. But Tim Eyman, who has become the state’s most pro­lif­ic unelect­ed law­mak­er, has nev­er shown any inter­est in gov­ern­ing. He prefers to make trou­ble for oth­ers rather than ded­i­cat­ing him­self to the bet­ter­ment of the lives of his fel­low citizens.

We have nev­er seen an Eyman ini­tia­tive aimed at end­ing home­less­ness or clean­ing up Puget Sound. And we prob­a­bly nev­er will, because putting peo­ple and plan­et ahead of prof­it is sad­ly not part of Tim Eyman’s val­ues system.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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