NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Friday, March 10th, 2023

State House hears NPI’s bill to make it easier to vote by ending Tim Eyman’s push polls

Today, the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ State Gov­ern­ment & Trib­al Rela­tions Com­mit­tee held a pub­lic hear­ing on NPI’s leg­is­la­tion to abol­ish and replace Tim Eyman’s advi­so­ry votes push polls — those pieces of anti-tax pro­pa­gan­da that have been appear­ing on Wash­ing­to­ni­ans’ bal­lots since 2012.

Spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er (D‑48th Dis­trict: Belle­vue, Red­mond, Kirk­land), Sen­ate Bill 5082 would get rid of the push polls and replace them with truth­ful, use­ful infor­ma­tion about the state’s finances, acces­si­ble from the offi­cial leg­isla­tive web­site and the voter’s pam­phlet via a QR code and URL.

The bill is sup­port­ed by Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs, the Wash­ing­ton Asso­ci­a­tion of Coun­ty Audi­tors, the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Jus­tice Coali­tion, the Bal­ance Our Tax Code Coali­tion, the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil, AFL-CIO and the labor move­ment, the League of Women Vot­ers of Wash­ing­ton, and a long, long list of orga­ni­za­tions that work on bal­lot access.

SB 5082 received a bipar­ti­san vote in the Sen­ate last month and is now under con­sid­er­a­tion in the House. If approved there with no fur­ther changes, the leg­is­la­tion would go to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee to be signed into law.

I tes­ti­fied for the bill at the hear­ing along with NPI Leg­isla­tive Direc­tor Kathy Saka­hara. My tes­ti­mo­ny focused on the grow­ing momen­tum for the bill and the sup­port we’ve received from edi­to­r­i­al boards, includ­ing The Seat­tle Times.

Kathy’s tes­ti­mo­ny focused on the pub­lic opin­ion research we’ve designed and com­mis­sioned over the years that finds repeal­ing Eyman’s “advi­so­ry votes” is some­thing vot­ers want — includ­ing a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of Repub­li­can vot­ers, who want the state to take advan­tage of an oppor­tu­ni­ty to save tax dol­lars and get gov­ern­ment out of the push polling business.

Also tes­ti­fy­ing for the bill were:

  • Wash­ing­ton Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs
  • King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise
  • Joseph Lach­man and Hai­ley Wu from the Asian Coun­sel­ing and Refer­ral Ser­vice (ACRS)
  • Abi­gail Leong from the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Jus­tice Coalition
  • Joe Kendo from the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil, AFL-CIO
  • Patrick Schoettmer, a pro­fes­sor of polit­i­cal sci­ence from Seat­tle University
  • Jazmine Smith from The Wash­ing­ton Bus
  • Cindy Black from Fix Democ­ra­cy First
  • Car­ol Sul­li­van from the League of Women Vot­ers of Washington
  • Steve Zemke from Major­i­tyRules, an NPI Advi­so­ry Councilmember
  • Julie Andrze­jew­s­ki from Indivisible
  • Kari Bull from Fair­Vote Washington
  • Kristin Ang from Faith Action Network

As expect­ed, Tim Eyman appeared in oppo­si­tion to the bill along with sev­er­al friends and allies, such as Antho­ny Mix­er, Julie Bar­rett, and Jeff Peck.

Eyman’s cohorts kept their tes­ti­mo­ny to the one-minute time lim­it just like the pro tes­ti­fiers, but Eyman did not. Eyman came for­ward to tes­ti­fy with the inten­tion of cre­at­ing a scene, offer­ing inflam­ma­to­ry com­ments that he knew would cause him to be gaveled down by Chair Bill Ramos. Eyman also delib­er­ate­ly went over his time lim­it and con­tin­ued speak­ing well after the light had turned red.

Eyman had Mix­er film­ing him from the seats in the hear­ing room while he engaged in his planned-in-advance grand­stand­ing. His objec­tive? To gen­er­ate fod­der and a video for an email mis­sive he’d send after the hear­ing where he would yelp about being silenced and cen­sored by Demo­c­ra­t­ic legislators.

Ramos banged his gav­el, instruct­ed Eyman to stop talk­ing, told staff to cut his mic and even paused the hear­ing to try to com­pel Eyman to end his theatrics.

None of that worked, so secu­ri­ty staff were sum­moned to inter­rupt Eyman’s grand­stand­ing. Eyman kept talk­ing and paid no atten­tion until the secu­ri­ty offi­cer walked up and leaned over to speak to him. Then he shut up like a clam and returned to his seat. You can see the sequence of events in this video:

Hilar­i­ous­ly, the last words Eyman audi­bly spoke were: “This is disrespectful.”

He was­n’t refer­ring to his own tes­ti­mo­ny, but he might as well have been.

Eyman has long been dis­re­spect­ful and con­temp­tu­ous in set­tings such as pub­lic hear­ings like these. It is impor­tant that peo­ple under­stand that it’s an act. Eyman is a per­former who craves atten­tion. He has his­tor­i­cal­ly rev­eled and rel­ished in rhetor­i­cal joust­ing, believ­ing it is good for pub­lic­i­ty. How­ev­er, few­er and few­er jour­nal­ists are inter­est­ed in cov­er­ing his antics any­more, which is a good thing.

Eyman and Repub­li­cans (the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty, the Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus, the Con­ser­v­a­tive Ladies of Wash­ing­ton, and oth­ers) also made a huge push to get peo­ple to sign in con against the bill, hop­ing to be able to claim that oppo­si­tion was over­whelm­ing and sup­port mea­ger based pure­ly on the sign-ins, which are an unsci­en­tif­ic met­ric of pub­lic sup­port and opposition.

How­ev­er, this gam­bit was unsuc­cess­ful. NPI, the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Jus­tice Coali­tion, Indi­vis­i­ble, and the wider pro­gres­sive move­ment orga­nized a sign-in call to action of our own, and in the end, we suc­ceed­ed in recruit­ing more peo­ple to sign in pro than Eyman’s camp was able to recruit con. By Take Action Net­work’s count, there were 1,448 peo­ple sign­ing in pro and 1,165 sign­ing in con.

The next step for SB 5082 is to earn a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion from the State Gov­ern­ment & Trib­al Rela­tions Com­mit­tee in an exec­u­tive ses­sion. It can then go to the Rules Com­mit­tee for review and selec­tion for floor action.

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