NPI’s legislation to make it easier to vote in Washington by abolishing Tim Eyman’s
advisory votes push polls has cleared another legislative hurdle.
By a vote of 4–3, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed, the House State Government Committee gave Senate Bill 5082 a “do pass” recommendation, sending it up to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.
Prime sponsored by Senator Patty Kuderer, D‑48th District (Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Medina, the Points communities) SB 5082 would spare Washington voters from having any more of their valuable tax dollars spent on anti-tax ads dressed up to look like real ballot measures, but which have no effect on state fiscal policy and are loaded with prejudicial, inflammatory wording.
5082 replaces what are really push polls with a regularly updated online presentation containing accurate, useful information about the Legislature’s fiscal decisions, accessible from the voter’s pamphlet via a quick response (QR) code, a web address (URL), and a telephone number.
A bipartisan majority of the Washington State Senate sent the bill over to the House last month. It then received a hearing on March 10th, at which NPI and many other organizations that work on voting justice spoke in favor of it.
Today, the bill took another critical step forward on its journey towards hopefully becoming the law of the land of the State of Washington.
The roll call on the bill in House State Government was as follows:
Supporting a “do pass” recommendation: Democratic Representatives Bill Ramos (Chair), Chris Stearns (Vice Chair), Mia Gregerson, Sharlett Mena
Offering a “do not pass” recommendation: Republican Representatives Peter Abbarno (Ranking Member), Leonard Christian
Without recommendation: Republican Representative Sam Low
Republicans proposed a slew of amendments seeking to gut the bill and save Eyman’s “advisory votes” — at least in some form. The committee rejected all of the Republican amendments and kept the bill that passed the Senate intact, preserving its intent and provisions, which our team deeply appreciates.
During the debate over the bill, Republicans Peter Abbarno, Leonard Christian, and Sam Low spoke repeatedly of trying to fix problems with “advisory votes” that were identified in testimony with their amendments.
But “advisory votes” can’t be fixed. They are conceptually flawed.
The ballot is the mechanism by which we make the important decisions about who represents us and what laws or plan of government we should have. It’s simply not an appropriate place for advertising or polling of any kind.
That’s why SB 5082 doesn’t bother with trying to save Eyman’s push polls. Instead, it gets rid of them because they don’t belong there.
Imagine if Democrats followed the precedent of I‑960 and voted into law their own crop of automatically-triggered “advisory votes.” For instance, an advisory vote could be triggered every time a bill was passed that affected reproductive rights, asking if the law should be approved or disapproved, and prescribing a loaded question that invited voters to vote “Approved” on the Democratic bills.
Republicans would be fiercely opposed. No question.
Given an opportunity to save millions of tax dollars and eliminate something that is definitely not a core function of government, three House Republicans said no today. Because it turns out that as far as they’re concerned, wasting tax dollars is a‑okay if that waste is benefiting a right wing, anti-tax agenda.
Abbarno, Low, and Christian also kept bringing up how Initiative 960 (the Eyman initiative that originally created “advisory votes”) was approved by voters and is therefore sacrosanct. They seemed not to appreciate the irony that they themselves were seeking to drastically change I‑960 through their amendments.
For instance, one of their ideas was to roll “advisory votes” into a single ballot item — one combined big piece of anti-tax propaganda. Another proposal specified that legislative leaders should decide when an “advisory vote” goes on the ballot. There’s no way Tim Eyman would support a bill making such changes. He would say it was a betrayal of what the voters voted for with I‑960.
But it’s the Legislature’s job to regularly update our laws — including the laws the people passed through the initiative process — to make sure that Washington is well served by them. If a law turns out to not be in the public interest, the Legislature has a duty to take action. That’s why we have a Legislature.
NPI has four years of statewide and local polling showing that voters who have an opinion want “advisory votes” repealed — and we made sure to ask a neutral question so we could find out what people really think about them. So we can say with confidence that voters are enthused about getting Senate Bill 5082 passed.
Not many people know that for several years after I‑960 was passed (it appeared in the ballot of November of 2007), there were no “advisory votes”. Our then statewide Republican elected officials Sam Reed and Rob McKenna and their staffs forgot to implement that provision of I‑960 and nobody flagged their mistake.
Let me reiterate: The first Eyman push polls didn’t appear on the ballot until 2012, because no one — not even Tim Eyman — remembered that they existed.
Nobody missed “advisory votes” when they weren’t on the ballot in 2008, 2009, 2010, or 2011. Similarly, with the exception of right wing operatives like Tim Eyman and Eyman’s fans, nobody is going to miss them after they’re repealed.