NO on Tim Eyman's I-1366
NO on Tim Eyman's I-1366

This morn­ing, in anoth­er land­mark deci­sion, the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court unan­i­mous­ly affirmed King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge William Down­ing’s rul­ing strik­ing down Tim Eyman’s dra­con­ian Ini­tia­tive 1366 as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al in its entire­ty — rel­e­gat­ing the mean-spir­it­ed, Ted Cruz-inspired hostage-tak­ing scheme to Wash­ing­ton’s polit­i­cal grave­yard for­ev­er.

This is a huge vic­to­ry. As I said in our state­ment to the mass media, we’re absolute­ly elat­ed and grate­ful to our Court for uphold­ing our Con­sti­tu­tion and putting a stop to Tim Eyman’s out­ra­geous abuse of our ini­tia­tive power.

The major­i­ty opin­ion, authored by Chief Jus­tice Bar­bara Mad­sen and signed by Asso­ciate Jus­tices Char­lie Wig­gins, Susan Owens, Charles John­son, Mary Fairhurst, and Debra Stephens, found that I‑1366 vio­lat­ed the sin­gle-sub­ject rule of our Con­sti­tu­tion and was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al on that basis.

“We hold that the oppo­nents to 1–1366 have tax­pay­er stand­ing and this case is jus­ti­cia­ble,” wrote Mad­sen. “We also hold that 1–1366 con­tains two oper­a­tive, unre­lat­ed pro­vi­sions and does not con­sti­tute valid con­tin­gent leg­is­la­tion. Thus, we hold that 1–1366 vio­lates the sin­gle-sub­ject rule and that it is void in its entire­ty. Because it is unnec­es­sary to reach oppo­nents’ addi­tion­al argu­ments, we decline to do so. We affirm the judg­ment of the tri­al court.”

Asso­ciate Jus­tices Steven González, Sheryl Gor­don McCloud, and Mary Yu filed a short con­cur­ring opin­ion agree­ing with the major­i­ty, but argu­ing for a dif­fer­ent ratio­nale for find­ing I‑1366 unconstitutional.

“The most direct, sim­ple, and clear way to resolve this case is to rec­og­nize that Ini­tia­tive 1366 sets Arti­cle XXIII on its head,” the three jus­tices said.

“The ini­tia­tive ignores the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly required first step—the pro­pos­al of a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment in either house. The ini­tia­tive then skips the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly required sec­ond step — a [two-thirds] vote in each house approv­ing the amend­ment — and jumps direct­ly to some­thing like the third-rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the vot­ers before any vote in the leg­is­la­ture. Only then does it jump back to the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly man­dat­ed sec­ond step — a two-thirds vote of each house to place a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment on the bal­lot. Ini­tia­tives are not the prop­er vehi­cle to amend the con­sti­tu­tion. Ini­tia­tive 1366 is unconstitutional.”

Maden’s sin­gle-sub­ject analy­sis was guid­ed by the Court’s pre­vi­ous deci­sions in Amal­ga­mat­ed Tran­sit Union (2000) and Kiga (2001), in which the Court struck down Tim Eyman’s I‑695 and I‑722 as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, respectively.

Mad­sen astute­ly noted:

In its essence, I‑1366 mir­rors I‑695 and I‑722. Sec­tion 2 of 1–1366 specif­i­cal­ly sets the sales tax rate at 5.5 per­cent, just as I‑695 specif­i­cal­ly set license tab fees at $30 and I‑722 pro­vid­ed for a one-time nul­li­fi­ca­tion and refund of a spe­cif­ic tax. Sec­tion 3 of I‑1366 pro­pos­es a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment requir­ing a super­ma­jor­i­ty vote or vot­er approval to raise all tax­es and leg­isla­tive approval to increase any fees. In oth­er words, sec­tion 3 requires the cre­ation of a per­ma­nent, sys­temic change in approv­ing all future tax increas­es, which is sim­i­lar to the vot­er approval for tax increas­es pro­vi­sion of I‑695 and the prop­er­ty tax assess­ment pro­vi­sion of I‑722.

There’s a rea­son, by the way, for these par­al­lels: Tim Eyman does­n’t believe in the plan of gov­ern­ment our state’s Founders gave us. He is obsessed with sab­o­tag­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion to take away the Leg­is­la­ture’s pow­er to raise rev­enue and levy tax­es. That’s what most of his ini­tia­tives have tried to do, from I‑695 to I‑1366. And con­se­quent­ly, most of them have been struck down because they attempt­ed to nul­li­fy pro­vi­sions of our Con­sti­tu­tion… pro­vi­sions like Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22, which says that bills shall pass by major­i­ty vote.

Ini­tia­tives are like bills: they can be used to cre­ate, mod­i­fy, or repeal statutes, but they can­not alter Wash­ing­ton’s Con­sti­tu­tion, its high­est law.

Again and again, Eyman has come up against Wash­ing­ton’s Con­sti­tu­tion in his attempts to rad­i­cal­ly alter how the Ever­green State is gov­erned. And that’s no acci­dent. Our Founders had the fore­sight to craft a plan of gov­ern­ment mod­eled on that of the Unit­ed States that would last Wash­ing­ton a long time. Today’s Supreme Court deci­sion is fur­ther proof that the sys­tem they gave us works, and works well.

It mat­ters not to Eyman that Arti­cle VII (Rev­enue and Tax­a­tion) declares flat­ly, “The pow­er of tax­a­tion shall nev­er be sus­pend­ed, sur­ren­dered or con­tract­ed away.”

It mat­ters not to Eyman that Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22 declares that bills in the Leg­is­la­ture shall pass only by major­i­ty vote (which means greater than fifty per­cent of leg­is­la­tors in each house: no more, and no less).

And it mat­ters not to Eyman that Arti­cle 19, also of Arti­cle II, says, “No bill shall embrace more than one sub­ject, and that shall be expressed in the title.”

As a cit­i­zen, Eyman does not have the pow­er to pro­pose con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments, so he is not in a posi­tion to direct­ly attack the pro­vi­sions I just men­tioned that he does­n’t like. It’s why he tried to coerce law­mak­ers into doing his bid­ding with I‑1366. Arti­cle XXIII of Wash­ing­ton’s Con­sti­tu­tion gives only elect­ed leg­is­la­tors (rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sen­a­tors) the pow­er to intro­duce amendments.

But Eyman does­n’t care. Year after year, he has con­vinced wealthy men to give him huge sums of mon­ey to force statewide votes on Tro­jan horse schemes pur­pose­ly intend­ed to wreck our gov­ern­ment. And just about every time he’s got­ten one of these past the vot­ers, those of us com­mit­ted to the pro­tec­tion of our Con­sti­tu­tion have duti­ful­ly gone to court to get them thrown out.

The Supreme Court has now struck down a total of sev­en Eyman ini­tia­tives: I‑695, I‑722, I‑747, I‑960/I‑1053/I‑1185, I‑1366.

More than a decade and a half have passed since Tim Eyman became a full-time ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er. By now, it should be abun­dant­ly clear to every­one — Repub­li­cans, inde­pen­dents, and Democ­rats, pro­gres­sives, bicon­cep­tu­als, and con­ser­v­a­tives — that Tim Eyman is not inter­est­ed in work­ing con­struc­tive­ly with oth­ers to build a bet­ter state. He rel­ish­es being a demo­li­tion crew chief, tak­ing a wreck­ing ball to the com­mons and putting our Con­sti­tu­tion through the shred­der. His objec­tive is to tear down what makes Wash­ing­ton great.

If that weren’t bad enough, Eyman is also a ser­i­al cheater who reg­u­lar­ly vio­lates Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws and lies to his own donors and fol­low­ers. Many peo­ple have found out the hard way that Eyman is not to be trusted.

If you ask us, Eyman is unques­tion­ably a can­di­date for the title of per­son who best per­son­i­fies greed in Wash­ing­ton. Sad­ly, char­la­tans like him are an increas­ing­ly pow­er­ful force in our pol­i­tics. There are a lot of dis­turb­ing par­al­lels between Eyman and pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump.

It’s fit­ting that Eyman’s asso­ciates are all Trump sup­port­ers. Doug Erick­sen and Don Ben­ton, who are among the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans clos­est to Eyman, are Trump’s top sur­ro­gates in the state. Eyman’s cohort Mike Fagan was a speak­er at Trump’s Spokane ral­ly. And Eyman, who shares a mid­dle name (Don­ald) with The Don­ald, has implied in his emails that he’s a Trump fan, too.

(Birds of a feath­er flock togeth­er, as they say.…)

While today’s rul­ing strik­ing down I‑1366 is a won­der­ful vic­to­ry, we know that it’s unlike­ly to deter Eyman. If he can per­suade his bene­fac­tors to give him more mon­ey, he’ll be back with anoth­er scheme. But we also believe that with every defeat, Eyman gets a lit­tle weak­er and los­es a lit­tle more cred­i­bil­i­ty. The nexus of peo­ple around him seems to keep get­ting small­er and smaller.

That is a very good thing. The peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton can count on us to con­tin­ue our work main­tain­ing a first line of defense against Eyman’s awful ini­tia­tives and his tox­ic pol­i­tics. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Eyman may be relent­less, but we are even more relent­less. The very first thing I said here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate last Novem­ber when ear­ly returns showed I‑1366 pass­ing was, it’s time to go back to court to bury this piece of garbage. That is just what we have done, thanks to the great work of Paul Lawrence and his team at Paci­fi­ca Law Group.

Thank you to every­one who has kept NPI and Per­ma­nent Defense going in the fight to pro­tect the state we love from Tim Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry. We proud­ly and joy­ful­ly share today’s vic­to­ry for Wash­ing­ton’s future with you.

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.

Adjacent posts