King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson
King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson hears oral arguments in Garfield County et al v. State of Washington (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

Tim Eyman’s dis­hon­est, incred­i­bly destruc­tive scheme to slash bil­lions of dol­lars in bipar­ti­san, vot­er-approved trans­porta­tion invest­ments at the state, region­al, and local lev­els will not go into effect on Decem­ber 5th as sched­uled, King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Mar­shall Fer­gu­son ruled this morning.

“In bal­anc­ing the equi­ties, inter­ests, and the rel­a­tive harms to the par­ties and the pub­lic, the Court con­cludes that the harms to Plain­tiffs result­ing from the imple­men­ta­tion of I‑976 out­weigh the harms faced by the Defen­dant State of Wash­ing­ton and the pub­lic of imple­men­ta­tion is stayed,” Judge Fer­gu­son wrote.

“if the col­lec­tion of vehi­cle license fees and tax­es stops on Decem­ber 5, 2019, there will be no way to retroac­tive­ly col­lect those rev­enues if, at the con­clu­sion of this case, the Court con­cludes that I‑976 is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and per­ma­nent­ly enjoins its enforce­ment. Con­verse­ly, refunds of fees and tax­es impact­ed can be issued if the State ulti­mate­ly pre­vails in this mat­ter, albeit at some expense to the State.”

We have pub­lished a state­ment over at NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense prais­ing the deci­sion and thank­ing Judge Fer­gu­son for uphold­ing our Con­sti­tu­tion.

This is great news to go into the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day with… tru­ly great news.

Fer­gu­son’s order declares that is:

ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that Plain­tiffs’ Motion for a Pre­lim­i­nary Injunc­tion is GRANTED. It is further

ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the effec­tive date of I‑976 is STAYED pend­ing fur­ther order of this Court. While this stay is in effect, Defen­dant State of Wash­ing­ton, its offi­cials, employ­ees, agents, and all per­sons in active con­cert or par­tic­i­pa­tion with Defen­dant, are enjoined from imple­ment­ing or enforc­ing I‑976. Defen­dant shall con­tin­ue to col­lect all fees, tax­es, and oth­ers charges that would be sub­ject to or impact­ed by I‑976 were it not stayed, and shall dis­trib­ute those funds to local munic­i­pal­i­ties and polit­i­cal sub­di­vi­sions as appro­pri­ate pur­suant to exist­ing laws, reg­u­la­tions, con­tracts, oblig­a­tions, poli­cies, and pro­ce­dures. Any munic­i­pal­i­ty or polit­i­cal sub­di­vi­sion that accepts such funds while this Order is in effect, includ­ing those that are not par­ties to this law­suit, do so sub­ject to the like­li­hood that refunds of over­pay­ments may be required should the State ulti­mate­ly pre­vail in this action.

Read the full ruling:

Rul­ing grant­i­ng pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion against I‑976

The plain­tiffs — Garfield Coun­ty Trans­porta­tion Author­i­ty, the City of Seat­tle, King Coun­ty, the Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Cities, Wash­ing­ton State Tran­sit Asso­ci­a­tion, Inter­ci­ty Tran­sit, Port of Seat­tle, Amal­ga­mat­ed Tran­sit Union Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil of Wash­ing­ton, and Michael Rogers — are not required to pro­vide any secu­ri­ty as a con­di­tion of the pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion, the rul­ing states.

While this pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion will pre­vent I‑976 from being imple­ment­ed in the near future, it is not the courts’ final word on I‑976. Judge Fer­gu­son empha­sized the plain­tiffs must still prove that the ini­tia­tive is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al beyond a rea­son­able doubt. While he has found they are like­ly to be able to do that, a prop­er judg­ment con­cern­ing I‑976’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty won’t come till next year.

King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson
King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Mar­shall Fer­gu­son hears oral argu­ments in Garfield Coun­ty et al v. State of Wash­ing­ton (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Institute)

Fer­gu­son — who clear­ly pos­sess­es crit­i­cal think­ing and long term think­ing skills, unlike some oth­er peo­ple I could think of — also had the fore­sight to end his order with a plan for next steps. His rul­ing directs the par­ties to dis­cuss sched­ul­ing mat­ters togeth­er and to pro­vide him, no lat­er than noon on Thurs­day, Decem­ber 5th, a pro­posed time­frame for future motions, brief­ing, and hearings.

That is, of course, if they can reach agree­ment on one.

It did­n’t take long for reac­tion to Judge Fer­gu­son’s deci­sion to begin pour­ing in.

“This is good news for tran­sit, safe­ty, and equi­ty in Seat­tle,” said Emer­ald City May­or Jen­ny Durkan. “The Court rec­og­nized the severe and irrepara­ble harm to our res­i­dents that would have occurred with­out this injunc­tion. The City of Seattle
will con­tin­ue to fight this uncon­sti­tu­tion­al initiative.”

“We believe the court is cor­rect in rec­og­niz­ing that I‑976 is like­ly uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and rul­ing that the ini­tia­tive would cause irrepara­ble harm,” said King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine in a state­ment released by his office.

“The City of Seat­tle has com­mit­ted that it will not cut Metro ser­vice hours fund­ed by the vot­er-approved Seat­tle Trans­porta­tion Ben­e­fit Dis­trict, so that res­i­dents can con­tin­ue to depend on fast, reli­able transit.”

“Despite today’s rul­ing, Metro con­tin­ues to face the prospect of reduced state and region­al fund­ing for bus­es, RapidRide, van­pool and oth­er ser­vices, includ­ing Access para­tran­sit, a life­line for res­i­dents with disabilities.

“We will con­tin­ue to fight to ensure this region – where I‑976 was defeat­ed by a near­ly twen­ty-point mar­gin – will face as few ser­vice dis­rup­tions as possible.”

“It is crit­i­cal that the Leg­is­la­ture act to pro­vide bet­ter, more pop­u­lar rev­enue alter­na­tives to the cur­rent vehi­cle fees, and main­tain the state’s com­mit­ment to fund its share of trans­porta­tion projects until the Supreme Court has ren­dered a final deci­sion on the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of I‑976.”

“This is not a final judg­ment, and this case is far from over,” said Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son in a state­ment issued after a review of the ruling.

“We will con­tin­ue work­ing to defend the will of the vot­ers,” Fer­gu­son added.

“This case will ulti­mate­ly wind up before the State Supreme Court. We are work­ing now to deter­mine our imme­di­ate next steps. As my solic­i­tor gen­er­al, Noah Pur­cell, said yes­ter­day, Tim Eyman’s out­burst in court was wild­ly inap­pro­pri­ate, and it hurt our chances of suc­cess­ful­ly defend­ing the people’s initiative.”

Mean­while, of course, Seat­tle and King Coun­ty and lawyers for Inter­ci­ty Tran­sit will con­tin­ue work­ing to defend the will of *their* vot­ers. I‑976 failed over­whelm­ing­ly in King Coun­ty. It also failed in five oth­er coun­ties, includ­ing Thurston Coun­ty, home to Inter­ci­ty Tran­sit, one of the oth­er plain­tiffs in the case.

No coun­ty vot­ed more strong­ly against I‑976 than San Juan Coun­ty, where 71% of vot­ers emphat­i­cal­ly reject­ed the mea­sure. Offi­cials there are eager to sup­port the law­suit, as they should be. On Novem­ber 18th, the San Juan Coun­ty Com­mis­sion met and autho­rized Coun­ty Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney Randy Gay­lord to file an ami­cus brief in the Garfield Coun­ty case sup­port­ing the plaintiffs.

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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5 replies on “VICTORY! Injunction granted to prevent Tim Eyman’s destructive I‑976 from taking effect”

  1. This isn’t a vic­to­ry, this is an insult to the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton. We the peo­ple vot­ed for exact­ly what we want­ed with no mis­un­der­stand­ing. This case needs to be moved because there is a con­flict of inter­est of the judge who is over­see­ing this, and Fer­gu­son and Inslee are using our tax­pay­er mon­ey to fight what we the peo­ple chose. You all should be in jail for treason.

    1. Don’t hold back, Thomas. Tell us what you real­ly think. 

      On a more seri­ous note: I very much doubt that you under­stand the con­se­quences of I‑976 based on your com­ment. Can you describe the ini­tia­tive to me, in detail, and explain what sources of rev­enue it repeals and what that mon­ey is used for? If you per­fect­ly com­pre­hend this ini­tia­tive, I’d like to see your analy­sis of it.

      There is no con­flict of inter­est here. Every week, the exec­u­tive branch of King Coun­ty’s gov­ern­ment brings civ­il and crim­i­nal cas­es against peo­ple and enti­ties in King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court before King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court judges. If you com­mit a crime in King Coun­ty and can’t afford your own attor­ney, you will be both pros­e­cut­ed and defend­ed at tax­pay­er expense. The judge over­see­ing your case will like­wise be paid by the tax­pay­ers, as will the jurors who sit in the jury box. And that is not a prob­lem because the judi­cia­ry is a sep­a­rate and inde­pen­dent branch of our government. 

      I bet you did­n’t know that King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court judges draw half their salary from the state lev­el. The State of Wash­ing­ton, through Bob Fer­gu­son’s office, is the defen­dant in this case and King Coun­ty is one of the plain­tiffs. So the lev­el of gov­ern­ment bring­ing the case is pay­ing half the judge’s salary and the lev­el of gov­ern­ment oppos­ing the case is pay­ing the oth­er half. 

      By your log­ic, all judges and jus­tices in this state are hope­less­ly con­flict­ed and no one can hear this case. So who should hear it? The Ore­gon Supreme Court? 

      You appear to not under­stand how the courts work. Too bad. But it’s nev­er too late to learn civics!

    1. A motion that was denied. The injunc­tion stands; I‑976 will not take effect tomorrow.

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