NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

With I-1325 in the dustbin, it’s once again time to update Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart

Many years ago, during Permanent Defense’s early years, we launched a resource for journalists and citizens called Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart, which contains a list of every initiative and referendum Eyman has attempted to qualify for the ballot, along with the year, the number of the measure, and the outcome.

The chart was created to illustrate that most of Tim Eyman’s initiatives have been failures in one way or another. We periodically update it during the course of each year, usually in the wake of a November election or a court ruling. This year, the Failure Chart is receiving a welcome early update to account for the failure of I-1325, Tim Eyman’s unsuccessful 2014 initiative, which will not be on the ballot.

In a threat analysis assessment released last week, we concluded that I-1325 was dead because we couldn’t find any evidence of an active I-1325 signature drive. That prediction was fulfilled today when Tim Eyman finally admitted to his followers that I-1325 would not be making on the ballot. (“We fell short,” Eyman said).

Each year, as longtime supporters know from reading our coverage here on the Cascadia Advocate and on Permanent Defense, Eyman files dozens of initiatives. Of these, Eyman usually only attempts to qualify one (at most, two) for the ballot simultaneously. He has come up short on five other occasions since 1999:

  • Initiative 267, in 2002
  • Initiative 807, in 2003
  • Initiative 864, in 2004
  • Initiative 917, in 2006
  • Referendum 65, also in 2006

Of the initiatives that Eyman has qualified for the ballot, six have been rejected by voters (most by large margins). Those are:

  • Initiative 745, 2000
  • Initiative 892, 2004
  • Initiative 985, 2008
  • Initiative 1033, 2009
  • Initiative 1125, 2011
  • Initiative 517, 2013

NPI’s Permanent Defense was involved in the campaigns against all of the above Eyman initiatives, except for I-745 in 2000. (PD wasn’t founded until 2002).

There have also been six Eyman initiatives that were passed by voters, but which were later struck down in whole or in part by the courts:

  • Initiative 695, 1999
  • Initiative 722, 2000
  • Initiative 747, 2001
  • Initiative 690, 2007
  • Initiative 1053, 2010
  • Initiative 1185, 2012

The first three were struck down by separate Supreme Court decisions and the latter three were declared unconstitutional in the same ruling, released last year.

Synopses of all the aforementioned measures are in the Failure Chart.

There have been two other Eyman initiatives passed by voters: I-776 in 2002 and I-900 in 2005. I-776 survived a legal challenge, but failed to accomplish its main intent, which was preventing Sound Transit from building Central Link, the region’s first line rail line. The Supreme Court upheld a Superior Court ruling in 2006 that prevented the state from enforcing the provision of I-776 that would have repealed Sound Transit’s motor vehicle tax, which had already been pledged to pay off bonds by the time that Eyman wrote I-776. For this reason, we classify I-776 as a failure.

That leaves I-900, Eyman’s initiative on performance audits. I-900 has never been subjected to a legal challenge and remains in effect today, so we classify it as a success, though it’s important to note that I-900 was partly redundant (by the time I-900 had qualified for the ballot, the Legislature had already passed a bill empowering the state auditor to conduct performance audits).

In total, Tim Eyman has attempted to qualify twenty measures to the ballot since 1999, but astonishingly, just one of those measures passed and remains fully in effect. I-695 and I-747 were reinstated by the Legislature after the Supreme Court struck them down, but that was their doing, not Eyman’s.

The beauty of our Failure Chart is that it illustrates a point we have been consistently trying to make for over a decade: Tim Eyman is terrible at legislating. Most of his initiatives have been failures. That said, the ones that were declared unconstitutional are still on the books, because according to the Code Reviser’s office, an initiative that has been struck down remains part of the Revised Code of Washington until it has been repealed. It’s just not enforced.

A true end to the Tim Eyman error will not come until Eyman’s initiative factory is permanently out of business and the initiatives that got past the voters are wiped off our books. We are already doing what we can to accomplish the former, and in 2015 and beyond, we’ll be partnering with State Representative Gael Tarleton (NPI’s vice president!) and her colleagues in the Legislature to accomplish the latter.

Read about previous updates to Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart:

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