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It’s time to update Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart

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.


  1. Pablo Paz
    Posted February 28th, 2013 at 11:09 PM | Permalink

    NOW can we have an income tax, please?


  2. Posted February 28th, 2013 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

    That’s why the name I-man is so appropriate.