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.