The second round of the fight to defeat Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 is officially underway. Today, a coalition of plaintiffs led by King County and the City of Seattle filed suit in King County Superior Court seeking an order striking down the initiative as unconstitutional. The plaintiffs are also asking for an injunction barring I‑976’s implementation until the legal challenge is resolved.
“Here in King County – where Sound Transit 3 was overwhelmingly approved and I‑976 was defeated by nearly 60 percent – we follow the will of the people and the rule of law,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
“We join with others across the state to challenge the constitutionality of I‑976, even as we renew our long-standing demand that the legislature reform the tax system and provide better funding options to local governments across the state. The only responsible choice is to push ahead, building a transportation system and economy that gives every person access to a better future.”
It’s important to know that the plaintiffs in this lawsuit include local governments all over the state, represented through the Association of Washington Cities and the Washington State Transit Association.
Here’s an introduction to all of the plaintiffs, courtesy of King County:
- Garfield County Transportation Authority, which provides transit to the smallest county in the state. With an annual budget of about $350,000, it relies heavily on state grants. If allowed to take effect, I‑976 could reduce transit service in Garfield County by at least fifty percent.
- Intercity Transit provides services in Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, Yelm and surrounding areas. I‑976 would reduce funding for shuttles, vanpool services, and service for people with disabilities, among other cuts.
- King County, the state’s largest county, could lose $52 million in Regional Mobility Grant Program awards that fund RapidRide expansion and reliability improvements, $36 million for transit serving persons with disabilities, and other critical transportation funding.
- City of Seattle would lose about $35 million that funds approximately 8,000 weekly trips in addition to funding for 14,000 ORCA passes for students, low income residents and seniors. Routes funded by the Transportation Benefit District provide off-peak transit options critical to reducing congestion and increasing equitable access to transportation. Also at jeopardy is more than $8M in road maintenance, transit corridor and bike and pedestrian safety projects.
- The Port of Seattle, which contends that increased regional congestion would interfere with cargo terminals, Sea-Tac Airport, industrial lands, and other facilities.
- Association of Washington Cities represents 281 cities and towns. Sixty cities and towns have adopted vehicle license fees, raising $58.2 million for local transportation needs. I‑976 would eliminate this funding.
- Washington State Transit Association represents thirty-one transit system that provide 238 million passenger trips annually on buses, paratransit, vanpools, light and commuter rail. I‑976 could eliminate essential funding for these services.
- Amalgamated Transit Union Legislative Council of Washington advocates on behalf of employees who operate public transportation. I‑976 would likely eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars from transportation budgets, resulting in the loss of family wage jobs.
- Michael Rogers is a Lacey resident with cerebral palsy. He relies on paratransit and transit services, and faces substantial harm from I‑976, which would likely eliminate funding for services upon which he relies.
Here’s the complaint:Legal challenge against Tim Eyman’s I‑976
The City of Seattle and King County are represented by in-house counsel (headed by City Attorney Pete Holmes and County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, respectively) while the remaining plaintiffs are represented by Paul Lawrence, Matthew Segal, Jessica Skelton, and Shae Blood of Pacifica Law Group.
Although we are not a plaintiff in this lawsuit, NPI is among Pacifica Law Group’s clients and we have the highest confidence in their abilities.
Senior litigation partner Paul Lawrence is a recipient of NPI’s highest honor, the Lynn Allen Award, for indispensable contributions to progressive causes. Paul was the lead counsel in the successful litigation against Tim Eyman’s last awful initiative, I‑1366, which was struck down in its entirety by the State Supreme Court.
There’s no one I trust more to handle this litigation than Dan Satterberg, Pete Holmes, and Paul’s team at Pacifica Law Group. If anyone can prove that I‑976 is unconstitutional (and our team at NPI emphatically believes it is), they can.
Very grateful for this suit.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson is going to have to explain very carefully how he arrives at a decision whether or not to defend this clearly unconstitutional initiative. Very carefully.
I’m guessing Bob’s explanation will be three words long: “It’s my job.”