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.

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Tim Eyman’s I‑1366 is bad public policy that even conservatives ought to be against

Edi­tor’s Note: I authored this post last week but am repost­ing it for your enjoy­ment as we head into the final week­end of the 2015 gen­er­al election. 

This morn­ing, I appeared for the sec­ond time this week on well-known con­ser­v­a­tive John Carl­son’s pro­gram, The Com­mute with Carl­son, to debate I‑1366 with Carl­son and Pierce Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Dan Roach (who are both Tim Eyman fans).

Dur­ing my remarks on the pro­gram, I empha­sized that I‑1366 would cause seri­ous long term dam­age to our state, under­min­ing our plan of gov­ern­ment and set­ting a bad prece­dent that oth­er play­ers in state pol­i­tics might try to copy.

I‑1366 is a mali­cious attempt by Eyman to coerce the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture into doing his will. After the Supreme Court thwart­ed his pre­vi­ous attempts to sub­vert Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22 with Ini­tia­tives 960, 1053, and 1185 two years ago, Tim Eyman turned his atten­tion to try­ing to sab­o­tage that all-impor­tant major­i­ty vote pro­vi­sion of our Con­sti­tu­tion through a con­sti­tu­tion­al amendment.

But there’s some­thing that’s block­ing Eyman from sim­ply being able to force us all to vote on the amend­ment he wants using his wealthy bene­fac­tors’ money.

And that is anoth­er crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant pro­vi­sion of our state Con­sti­tu­tion… Arti­cle XXIII, which says that all con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments have to orig­i­nate in the Leg­is­la­ture and receive a two-thirds vote of each house to pass before being sub­mit­ted to the peo­ple for rat­i­fi­ca­tion at a sub­se­quent gen­er­al election.

See, unlike in Ore­gon and Cal­i­for­nia and a few oth­er states, in Wash­ing­ton, only the Leg­is­la­ture has the pow­er to pro­pose con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments. The peo­ple don’t. That is the way our founders want­ed it. The peo­ple have final say over any amend­ment, but all amend­ments have to orig­i­nate in the Legislature.

Since Tim Eyman is not an elect­ed leg­is­la­tor, and has nev­er had the courage to run for office, he does­n’t have the pow­er to pro­pose an amend­ment. And even if he did, he does­n’t have the votes to pass it. Two-thirds is, after all, a high bar.

And so Eyman has resort­ed to black­mail. Coer­cion. Extor­tion. Call it what you like, I‑1366 is intend­ed to force elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives like NPI’s Vice Pres­i­dent and Sec­re­tary Gael Tar­leton (one of our nine­ty-eight state rep­re­sen­ta­tives) into vot­ing against their val­ues, and against our state’s val­ues. That’s wrong.

I‑1366 is not a revote on the idea of hav­ing a two-thirds vote thresh­old for rais­ing rev­enue. As men­tioned, the Supreme Court has already said that’s uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. This ini­tia­tive is an attempt to forcibly invoke the con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment process by a spe­cif­ic date, which is total­ly beyond the scope of the ini­tia­tive power.

Pas­sage of I‑1366 would set a ter­ri­ble prece­dent. To say that the door would be open to future mis­chief mak­ing would be an understatement.

When I appeared on John’s show, I told him, “I’d like your lis­ten­ers to imag­ine this morn­ing what it would be like if the shoe was on the oth­er foot”.

“Imag­ine,” I said, “that next year, a con­sor­tium of left wing groups decides to copy a page out of the Eyman play­book and demand the Con­sti­tu­tion be changed to say that it should take a two-thirds vote to low­er our state’s min­i­mum wage or to reduce ben­e­fits guar­an­teed to pub­lic work­ers by con­tracts with unions.”

“The min­i­mum wage could still be raised by major­i­ty vote, but not low­ered… that would per­ma­nent­ly require a two-thirds vote. The min­i­mum wage, by the way, is very pop­u­lar with vot­ers. They’ve vot­ed for it over and over.”

“Pas­sage of an amend­ment would itself require a two-thirds vote, of course. Impos­si­ble with­out Repub­li­can sup­port. Now imag­ine, that in an attempt to secure the votes of East­ern Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans, left wing groups take a mil­i­tant approach and qual­i­fy an ini­tia­tive that says to those East­ern Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans, €œIf you don’t adopt the par­tic­u­lar amend­ment we want by this par­tic­u­lar date, the state bud­get will be altered to elim­i­nate fund­ing for projects in your dis­tricts in East­ern Wash­ing­ton. You can either adopt the amend­ment or you and your con­stituents will suf­fer the con­se­quences.

“Would­n’t you agree that sounds ridicu­lous? Out­ra­geous? Now you know how oppo­nents of I‑1366 feel. This is a bla­tant attempt to black­mail leg­is­la­tors who believe that major­i­ty rule should apply to pas­sage of all bills and bud­gets into vot­ing against their val­ues to change the Con­sti­tu­tion. It’s bad pub­lic policy.”

I did­n’t expect to change many minds by going on Carl­son’s show, but I hope I at least gave his lis­ten­ers some­thing to think about.

I think Pope Fran­cis is cor­rect: we reach bet­ter deci­sions when we oper­ate by the Gold­en Rule. Do unto oth­ers as you would have them do unto you.

If Tim Eyman is suc­cess­ful with I‑1366, the mil­i­tant tac­tics of hostage tak­ing could become a fix­ture of Wash­ing­ton State pol­i­tics (as they have in nation­al politics).

That would be awful.

Tim Eyman has been called a con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal activist many times — that’s how his Wikipedia entry describes him, for instance. But giv­en that Eyman does­n’t seem to want to con­serve any­thing, not even the plan of gov­ern­ment our founders gave us all the way back in 1889, that does­n’t seem like an appro­pri­ate label for him. A more accu­rate descrip­tor would be rad­i­cal right wing pur­vey­or of bad ideas.

In this cam­paign, I have heard from real con­ser­v­a­tives who cher­ish the Con­sti­tu­tion that has been hand­ed down to us, and agree that our sys­tem of rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment should be defend­ed. I applaud these true con­ser­v­a­tives for help­ing par­tic­i­pate in the noble and wor­thy cause of defeat­ing this awful initiative.

The team at NPI and I emphat­i­cal­ly believe major­i­ty rule is good for every­body. We wel­come those con­ser­v­a­tives and Repub­li­cans who feel like­wise, and we are proud to cam­paign along with them to pro­tect Wash­ing­ton from the harm of I‑1366.

Any­one who has watched the NO on I‑1366 cam­paign take shape over the past few months can see that it is broad, deep, and bipar­ti­san. This coali­tion is open to all who believe in the val­ues that Wash­ing­ton was found­ed upon, whether they be Democ­rats, Repub­li­cans, inde­pen­dents, or sup­port­ers of minor parties.

NO on I‑1366’s diverse ros­ter also includes orga­ni­za­tions from the labor com­mu­ni­ty, busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty, envi­ron­men­tal com­mu­ni­ty, and edu­ca­tion com­mu­ni­ty, from the Wash­ing­ton Round­table and Seat­tle Met­ro­pol­i­tan Cham­ber of Com­merce to the state PTA, AARP Wash­ing­ton, League of Women Vot­ers, Coun­cil of Fire Fight­ers, and the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil, AFL-CIO… as well as wide­ly-respect­ed groups like NAMI Wash­ing­ton and the Chil­dren’s Alliance.

We are all stand­ing togeth­er to ensure that Wash­ing­ton State moves for­ward, not back­wards. We ask you to join with us in reject­ing this false choice that Tim Eyman has man­u­fac­tured as the lat­est bad idea to come out of his ini­tia­tive factory.

By Novem­ber 3rd, please remem­ber to return your bal­lot and vote NO on I‑1366.

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