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:

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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