For-prof­it ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman announced that he plans to appear in Olympia tomor­row with his side­kicks Jack and Mike Fagan to announce a new ini­tia­tive for 2016, which Eyman is call­ing his “back-up ini­tia­tive” for I‑1366.

(I‑1366 was the hostage-tak­ing mea­sure that appeared on this year’s bal­lot; it would cut the sales tax by $8 bil­lion over six years unless the Leg­is­la­ture sab­o­tages the major­i­ty vote pro­vi­sion of our state Con­sti­tu­tion by April 15th, 2016.)

Appar­ent­ly antic­i­pat­ing that the courts may soon strike down I‑1366 (which is bla­tant­ly uncon­sti­tu­tion­al), Eyman has come up with a new mea­sure which would attach a one-year expi­ra­tion date to future rev­enue increas­es, unless such an increase receives a two-thirds vote in the Leg­is­la­ture or a vote of the people.

Eyman has pre­vi­ous­ly filed drafts of this scheme as ini­tia­tives to the Leg­is­la­ture for 2015, which NPI has been ana­lyz­ing. Eyman claimed this morn­ing in a brag­gado­cios email to have already poll-test­ed the bal­lot title on one of the scheme’s incar­na­tions, using his favorite poll­ster, Pulse Opin­ion Research.

Ini­tia­tives to the peo­ple for 2016 can­not be filed until next Jan­u­ary, so the ini­tia­tive to the Leg­is­la­ture Eyman will be fil­ing tomor­row will mere­ly be for show.

Eyman wants the Leg­is­la­ture to vote to sab­o­tage the major­i­ty vote require­ment found in Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22, which dates back to state­hood. It reads:

SECTION 22 PASSAGE OF BILLS. No bill shall become a law unless on its final pas­sage the vote be tak­en by yeas and nays, the names of the mem­bers vot­ing for and against the same be entered on the jour­nal of each house, and a major­i­ty of the mem­bers elect­ed to each house be record­ed there­on as vot­ing in its favor.

Our state’s founders believed, as Madi­son and Hamil­ton did, that our leg­isla­tive branch should oper­ate by major­i­ty vote. They cre­at­ed a plan of gov­ern­ment for us which bal­ances major­i­ty rule and minor­i­ty rights. Eyman wants to mess with that bal­ance because he does­n’t want to par­tic­i­pate in that most noble of Amer­i­can tra­di­tions: Pool­ing resources to make pos­si­ble essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices like schools.

Eyman does­n’t want Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22 to apply to rev­enue bills. He wants rev­enue bills to pass by the same thresh­old that a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment must receive: Two-thirds of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and two-thirds of the Senate.

But get­ting a two-thirds vote of the Leg­is­la­ture requires get­ting leg­is­la­tors from both par­ties on board (a small sub­ma­jor­i­ty effec­tive­ly con­trols the out­come, because the bar is so high). And Eyman has no influ­ence in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, so he’s stuck.

Eyman tried coer­cion with I‑1366, but it sim­ply isn’t pro­duc­ing the results that he wants, to his great frus­tra­tion. Democ­rats sim­ply aren’t rolling over and capit­u­lat­ing to his black­mail. So he’s try­ing to put more pres­sure on them.

Pri­or to the 2015 gen­er­al elec­tion, Eyman had been keep­ing a low pro­file, not want­i­ng to be the pub­lic face of the cam­paign for I‑1366. But now that I‑1366 is nar­row­ly pass­ing, Eyman has evi­dent­ly decid­ed to come out of hiding.

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son’s office is cur­rent­ly look­ing into alle­ga­tions that Eyman com­mit­ted seri­ous and egre­gious vio­la­tions of Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure law, both dur­ing the 2012 time peri­od where he used dona­tions to one ini­tia­tive (I‑1185) to qual­i­fy a sec­ond, unre­lat­ed ini­tia­tive (I‑517) as well as oth­er time peri­ods. Fer­gu­son got the case after the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly in Sep­tem­ber to refer the mat­ter to his office, find­ing a lengthy, drawn-out inves­ti­ga­tion con­duct­ed by PDC staff.

NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense has already begun prepa­ra­tions to oppose this lat­est Eyman scheme, which Eyman will pre­sum­ably be attempt­ing to qual­i­fy to the Novem­ber 2016 statewide ballot.

Eyman will need the back­ing of his wealthy bene­fac­tors to fund anoth­er sig­na­ture dri­ve, but he pre­sum­ably already has com­mit­ments from them to do so.

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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