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.