Spin Control

Eyman, Fagans try new route to 2/3 tax votes

OLYMPIA -- Mike Fagan, Tim Eyman and Jack Fagan, left to right, try to file an electronic version of their new initiative at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday. The new system didn't work properly and they ended up turning in a paper version and paying the $5 filing fee. (Jim Camden)
OLYMPIA -- Mike Fagan, Tim Eyman and Jack Fagan, left to right, try to file an electronic version of their new initiative at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday. The new system didn't work properly and they ended up turning in a paper version and paying the $5 filing fee. (Jim Camden)

 

Mike Fagan, Tim Eyman and Jack Fagan, left to right,  to file an electronic copy of their new initiative at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday. After several attempts, they wound up submitting a paper copy and paying the $5 filing fee.

OLYMPIA – Unable to ask voters again to approve an initiative requiring supermajority approval of tax increases, a trio of self-described tax fighters will try to prod the Legislature into putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Perennial initiative sponsors Tim Eyman of Mukilteo and Mike Fagan and Jack Fagan of Spokane filed an initiative Wednesday that would require a public vote on any tax increase, a one-year limit on any new tax, and an advisory vote on whether voters should get to vote on a constitutional amendment that requires the Legislature pass any tax increase with a two-thirds majority.

The initiative comes with an “escape clause” which says if the Legislature puts that constitutional amendment up to a public vote, other provisions go away. . . 

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. . . “It’s time for Olympia to drop the ‘father knows best attitude,’” Eyman told reporters as the trio submitted paperwork for the initiative and paid the $5 filing fee. Voters “have earned the right for permanent protection.”

Voters actually need protection from Eyman and the Fagans and their anti-tax initiatives, said Andrew Villaneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute and Steve Zemke of Tax Sanity. Requiring a supermajority to pass tax increases but allowing the Legislature to pass exemptions for different groups with a simple majority locks in inequities in the tax system, Zemke said.

“They’re recycling a failed idea,” Villaneuve said.

The trio has succeeded at the ballot box with a series of initiatives that required the Legislature to pass tax increases with a two-thirds supermajority.

But earlier this year, the state Supreme Court said such a change requires a constitutional amendment, a process that requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber plus a simple majority from voters. The Legislature hasn’t passed such a measure this year, and isn’t likely to do so before the session ends Sunday.

The Fagans wore long-sleeved T-shirts that said “Let the Voters Decide.” Earlier this week, Mike Fagan, in his role as a Spokane City Councilman, said attorneys should study a pair of proposed city initiatives to see if they should be kept off the ballot, even if they collect the necessary signatures.

Mike Fagan said he doesn’t think the Spokane initiatives are constitutional, and would cost the city money for legal challenges if they pass. That’s something critics said about previous supermajority initiative that he and Eyman sponsored. But Fagan said he has to separate his role as an initiative activist from his role as a councilman, and has a responsibility as a city official to be careful with the public’s money is spent wisely.

Hugh Spitzer, a University of Washington law professor and constitutional law scholar, told the Associated Press he has questions about whether Eyman’s latest initiative will pass legal muster. 

Editor's note: The original caption for the photo said the sponsors were unable to file the initative electronically because of bugs in the system. Lori Augino, the state elections director, said the system worked fine, but Eyman was just unable to do it on an unfamiliar computer.




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