NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

The battle against Tim Eyman’s I‑976 goes on as local governments, ATU file suit to stop it

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.

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  1. 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.

    # by Joe :: November 13th, 2019 at 11:00 PM
  2. I’m guess­ing Bob’s expla­na­tion will be three words long: “It’s my job.”

    # by Ivan Weiss :: November 14th, 2019 at 8:56 AM
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