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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Tim Eyman

No Eyman initiative this year

OLYMPIA — Initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman will not have a measure on this fall's ballot.

Eyman informed supporters today that he and his associates, Spokanites Mike and Jack Fagan, will not be turning in signatures for Initiative 1325, an effort to force the Legislature into sending voters a constitutional amendment for a super-majority to raise taxes. Today is the deadline for signatures to go to the Secretary of State's office.

In an e-mail, Eyman said the campaign worked really hard, but fell short because qualifying for the ballot is “brutally difficult”. It also promises to work harder next time. It also contends that just the threat of I-1325 “was incredibly effective in deterring the Legislature from raising taxes this year.”

Well, that and the fact the Legislature's two chambers were controlled by different parties that agreed on almost nothing when it comes to taxes.

 The e-mail, like most Eyman missives to supporters, doubles as an appeal for money. The post script that says “Please don't forget about us. Jack, Mike and I only earn what our supporters decide to give” and offers a link to the website where contributions can by made by PayPal or credit card.

I-1325 was one of six versions of the the supermajority proposal that Eyman and company filed this year. Longtime Eyman critic Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute predicted they wouldn't make the ballot about a week ago, noting the signature effort for I-1325 seemed non-existent and the campaign was not spending money for paid signature-gatherers. 

Eyman offers workaround for 2/3rds tax requirement

OLYMPIA — For years, Tim Eyman and company proposed initiatives to require a super-majority for taxes. Voters approved them even though opponents said they were unconstitutional.

Turns out opponents were right, or so said the state Supreme Court in last year's ruling that such a change requires an amendment to the state Constitution. But Washington doesn't allow amending the Constitution by initiative; that has to start in the Legislature, get a super-majority there and then move to the ballot. A proposal along those lines last session didn't get much more than lip service.

Today Eyman proposed an initiative that attempts to goad the Legislature into approving such a constitutional amendment. It would cut the state sales tax by a penny, down to 5.5 cents per dollar in 2015 unless the Legislature approves an amendment in the 2015 session that requires a two-thirds yes vote for any tax increase. If they put that on the ballot, no sales tax cut. 

Eyman and his organization also filed initiatives to outlaw red-light cameras and re-instate $30 license tab fees, but the proposal to pass the supermajority or lose some of the sales tax proposal seems likely to be the initiative they will put their efforts, and their fund-raising machinery, behind. They filed numerous initiatives to the voters and the Legislature last year in an effort to force a 2/3rds amendment onto the ballot, but eventually abandoned them to concentrate on I-517, the initiative to change the initiative laws, which failed in November.

The proposal hasn't been issued a number yet. If history is any indicator, Eyman is likely to file several versions of the idea before settling on one to take to the printer and begin circulating.

Sunday Spin2: A bridge too far out?

Meanwhile, at the Secretary of State’s office, someone filed an initiative to rename the fallen and resurrected Skagit River Bridge for initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

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

 

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. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.

1 year for initiatives to get signatures? How about 2 years?

OLYMPIA – As state law enforcement officials began investigating more than 8,000 allegedly forged signatures for a pair of ballot measures, a legislative panel looked at changes to the century-old avenue for grass-roots democracy, the initiative process.

One suggestion the Senate Governmental Operations Committee aired out Thursday: Give initiative campaigns more time to circulate petitions.

“If we give citizens more time to get involved, you wouldn’t need paid signature gatherers,” Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.

Initiative on initiatives clears signature hurdle

OLYMPIA — An initiative designed to make changes in the state's initiative law has enough signatures to be sent to the Legislature.

As expected, the Secretary of State's office cleared Initiative 517 for the next step, which is a decision by the Legislature whether to pass it or let it go to the voters in November, either by itself or with an alternative.

I-517 comes from Tim Eyman and his allies, and would set up penalties for harassing signature gatherers, require that all ballot measures that have enough signatures appear on the ballot, and extend the time for gathering signatures from six months to a year.

Under current law, initiatives to the people are filed no earlier than January of the year in which they will appear on the ballot, giving supporters until the end of June, or about six months, to gather signatures. I-517 would allow proposed initiatives to be filed in June of the year prior to the election, and give them through June of the election  year to gather signatures.  

Latest Eyman initiative topic: Initiatives

OLYMPIA – Almost every year for more than a decade, Washington’s premier proponent of initiatives, Tim Eyman, has had a ballot measure to promote, and 2013 is no exception. This year’s initiative topic: initiatives.

Eyman and other supporters of Initiative 517 filed petitions with more than 345,000 signatures Thursday for a proposal that would make changes to the state’s initiative law. It would set penalties for anyone harassing a signature gatherer, allow signatures to be gathered at the entrance to any store or inside or outside any public building, and add an extra six months to the signature-gathering process.

Initiatives to the people can now be as early as January for a general election in November, but the petitions must be turned in by early July for signatures to be checked and counted for validation. Processing the proposal before it’s ready to print petitions so signatures can be gathered can take weeks, so the practical time for gathering signatures is often five months or less. I-517 would allow initiatives to be filed as early as July of the year before the election, essentially giving a campaign up to a year to gather signatures.

I-517 has about 100,000 more signatures than the minimum requirement, which makes it all but certain of being validated. It would go first to the Legislature, where it could be passed into law. The Legislature could also reject it, which would put it on the general election ballot, or pass an alternative, which would put both proposals before voters in November. 

Fiscal note on I-1185 stands, judge rules

OLYMPIA — The fiscal note on the latest initiative requiring a supermajority in the Legislature for tax increases will remain in the voters pamphlet, even though it is different from a nearly identical initiative that passed in 2010, a judge ruled today.

That might not have much effect in the upcoming election, but could be a point of contention in next year's Legislature if Initative 1185 passes, sponsor Tim Eyman said

The fiscal note prepared by the Office of Financial Management for Initiative 1185 — requiring a two-thirds legislative approval of any tax increase and a legislative vote on fee increases — says passage may cost the state between $22 million and $33 million in lost toll revenues in 2017 and some other costs in other agency fees.

Eyman challenged that assessment, arguing that I-1185 merely continues the initiative voters passed in 2010, so it doesn't change anything. Calling the fiscal note a “gross injustice” stemming from “a complete lack of accountability,” Eyman, who is not an attorney, represented the initiative's sponsors in a hearing on a request to have the fiscal note removed or altered.

I-1185 has the same ballot title as I-1053, he told Thurston County Superior Court James Dixon. It should have the same fiscal note, which in 2010 said I-1053 had no direct fiscal impact.

But since 2010, a pair of attorney general's opinions that looked at I-1053 concluded that the new law could require addiltional authorization by the Legislature for certain fees,  Steve Dietrich, a deputy attorney general said. OFM had to take those opinions into account when it made its assumptions about the effect of continuing the law.

“This isn't the same situation they faced when they wrote (the fiscal note for) 1053,” Dietrich said.

The Legislature might have to authorize new fees, but that doesn't cost anything, Eyman countered. At the very least, the voters pamphlet should contain a line that says the fiscal note is disputed by sponsors, he said.

Eyman's arguments were “largely political” not legal, Dietrich said. State law allows for someone to challenge the wording of an initiative's ballot title, but doesn't  provide a mechanism for challenging the fiscal note for an initiative, he added.

“You simply don't have the power to order OFM to rewrite in the way he would like,” said Dietrich told the judge.

Dixon agreed the order Eyman was seeking, a writ of mandamus, didn't apply to the case. If it had refused to write any fiscal note, that option might be available, but OFM has the discretion on how it prepares a fiscal note, he said. If it came up with conclusions that were “arbitrary and capricious”, the court might also be able to step in.

“It is not arbitrary and capricious to review a law and come up with new conclusions,” Dixon said.

After the hearing, Eyman said he didn't know how much effect the fiscal note will have on voters, and many probably won't study it. “I think voters have seen this issue before, so they're pretty well-educated on it.”

But politicians do pay attention to things like the fiscal note, and Eyman and other initiative supporters will raise the part of the analysis that talks about the Legislature needing to approve at any opportunity during the next session.

The campaign has no plans to spend money on ads to rebut the fiscal note, he said. But the court challenge was important for creating a record of the sponsors' objections, if questions about the fiscal impact come up in debates or interviews.

This is grass-roots democracy?

Friday’s deadline for turning in initiatives demonstrated clearly that letting voters approve legislation at the ballot box might still be an exercise of government of the people, but getting a measure on the ballot is all about money.
Of some 55 proposals that were filed this year and a half-dozen or so that made at some level of effort to gather signatures, only two reached the deadline with enough names to make the ballot. Both relied heavily on large infusions of cash from businesses or wealthy donors to pay people to collect those names. ..

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.
  

Eyman to turn in signatures on I-1185

OLYMPIA — Signed petitions on an initiative to reiterate the supermajority needed for the Legislature to approve tax increases will be turned in Friday morning. 

Tim Eyman and other sponsors of Initiative 1185 will be carting boxes of petitions into the Secretary of State's Elections Division office at 10:30 a.m., Eyman said. That's about 90 minutes after petitions for an initiative to allow public schools to set up charter schools

His announcement followed just one day after he told supporters “we're not there yet” and urged them to get even partially filled petitions to the campaign offices because “every signature counts.”

Initiatives require about 242,000 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot, and state elections officials always urge campaigns to collect at least an extra 15 percent to account for duplicates, people who arent registered and signatures that don't match the state's voter registry. 

Bell tolls for I-1125

OLYMPIA — Initiative 1125, which would have placed restrictions on how tolls can be levied and spent, is officially a loser.

Although the fate of the proposal seemed fairly likely when it ended Election Night behind, The Associated Press night called it for the No camp Wednesday evening after another day of ballot counting in some of the state's biggest counties.

Among them, a 71,000 vote margin on the side of the opposition in King County. Other counties voting No included Spokane, Snohomish, Thurston, Whitman, Garfield and Adams. Overall, I-1125 is down by about 40,000 votes out of nearly 1.3 million cast, or about 51.5 percent No and 48.5 percent Yes.

For a map of the county-by-county results on I-1125, click here.

Lawsuit challenges supermajority for taxes

OLYMPIA – A coalition of House Democrats and education advocates are asking the courts to void the supermajority required for tax increases, arguing that it’s an unconstitutional limit on legislative authority.
State Republicans and the sponsor of initiatives that have repeatedly resulted in voters imposing that two-thirds majority quickly denounced the lawsuit as ignoring the will of the voters.
Tim Eyman, who had another such initiative certified Monday for this November’s ballot, said the suit could boost that measure. It could also provide campaign fodder for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, who as state attorney general will have the task of defending the supermajority requirement in the courts.
“This is going to bode well for us,” Eyman said of Initiative 1125. “It’s an extraordinary gift they’ve given to the McKenna campaign.”

To read the rest of this story, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.
  

Road taxes initiative turns in 327,000 names

Initiative sponsors Tim Eyman (right) and Mike Fagan hold a press conference Friday while elections workers begin counting their petitions.

OLYMPIA — Supporters of an initiative to limit the use of road taxes and tolls dropped off their petitions Friday morning with a comfortable cushion that suggests they'll be on the November ballot.

Sponsors Tim Eyman and Mike Fagan wheeled in boxes of petitions they said held some 327,000 signatures for Initiative 1125, an effort to rein in tolls, taxes and fares and force any increases to be approved by the Legislature.

“These kinds of decisions need to be made by elected officials,” Eyman said. Tolls would also come off of different projects when the bonds sold to build them are paid off.

Waiting for Eyman and company were members of a forming coalition against the plan. Former State Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald called the proposal “a mish mash” of ideas that doesn't understand modern systems of tolling. It could cause problems for plans to enlarge the 520 bridge across Lake Washington by restricting the use of funds from tolls on the I-90 bridge, he said.

Assuming that the cost of a road or bridge stops when the bonds are paid off is like assuming the cost of owning a house stops when the mortgage is paid off, he said; tolls need to continue to pay for ongoing maintenance.

Eyman was on good behavior

OLYMPIA — Earlier in the week, Spin Control mentioned that inveterate initiative sponsor and sometime gubernatorial critic Tim Eyman would be attending the final bill signing ceremony that included all those little bills — the operating budget, the capital budget, workers compensation reform, government streamlining.

Spin Control might also have implied that some antics were expected, considering Eyman had in previous appearances made some gestures that signified he didn't much like a particular bill while posing for the ceremonial post-signing photo.

It seems only fair to note that Eyman was what mom would have called a good guest Wednesday. Not only did he not give anything a thumbs down, stick out his tongue or make rabbit ears behind Gov. Chris Gregoire during photos, he brought her a bouquet of flowers.

It would be safe to say Gregoire was surprised, and touched.

He was around when Gregoire signed the budget and said she was not vetoing a shift of money from the state auditor's account that Brian Sonntag said could affect his ability to do performance audits. She said she didn't agree with the shift, and will watch it carefully but “I'm not worried about the Legislature turning its back on perfromance audits.”

Later he called to say that while he was disappointed that she didn't line-item veto that piece of the budget, he thought the Legislature essentially left Gregoire with no choice in the matter, and that they should be blamed, not her.

Return to sender. Address unknown

Initiative-meister and red-light camera-hater Tim Eyman is urging adherents to send e-mails to city leaders around the state decrying the tactics of a leading camera purveyor. 

The Spokane mayor and city councilmember were included in his missive this week to supporters, asking them to urge leaders to take a stand on “sleazeball” tactics of ATS, the red-light company that operates the systems in Spokane and many other communities. It's a response to a story in the Everett Herald this week that indicates a company executive waged an “Astroturf” campaign on that paper’s website to support the systems when locals criticized them.

Spokane city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said city officials had only received a handful of e-mails Thursday. That seemed low, prompting some worrying that Eyman was slipping, until a check of his  e-mail links showed addresses were incorrect for several Spokane officials.

The correct e-mails can be found here.
  

Status quo on initiative laws

Left in the legislative ash heap last week was a bill to revise rules for initiative campaigns by charging as much as $500 to file a ballot measure and putting stricter rules on people paid to gather signatures.
Like previous attempts to change ballot measure rules, SB 5297 brought out Tim Eyman and other initiative entrepreneurs who understandably don’t want the Legislature messing with a system they’ve figured out. Certain progressive “good-government” groups, eager to clean up abuses they see, provided the opposing view and generated heartfelt if conflicting testimony at the hearings.
Eyman is always quotable, in an “Armageddon is the next stop if we get on this railroad” sort of way. The good government groups warned of dastardly deeds by signature collectors, and usually mentioned a case from Spokane involving the mother-daughter team of Theresa and Mercedes Dedeaux.
The Spokesman-Review detailed the case early last year, when it became a cause célèbre for another bill with another set of restrictions on paid signature gatherers which also ultimately died. This seems a good time for an update…
  

Red light cameras might require public vote

OLYMPIA – Cities that want to install cameras to catch motorists who run red lights or speed through school zones would have to get voter approval under bills before the Legislature.
They might also have to make the yellow light last a bit longer at intersections with cameras or set the lights so they are red in all directions for at least a second. They wouldn’t be able to promise a share of the ticket revenue to the company that sells them the cameras.
Traffic ticket cameras started as a pilot project several years ago and “turned into a big problem in Washington state,” Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, told the House Transportation Committee Tuesday. He proposed two different bills, using different standards for setting up the system; but both would require voter approval whenever a city starts or expands a red light camera program.
  

City of Spokane take note: Red light cameras on Mukilteo ballot

OLYMPIA — City of Spokane officials might be watching one election result from across the state pretty closely on Nov. 2. Or if not, they should.

The City of Mukilteo has an initiative that severely limits the use of red-light cameras and speeding cameras which issue tickets to motorists they catch running lights or driving too fast. It would require a two-thirds majority of that city council AND a simple majority of voters to approve the devices, and reduce the cost of a fine to the amount of the lowest parking ticket.

The ballot measure, sponsored by Tim Eyman, had huge numbers of signatures at its turn  it, and qualified for the ballot. When one combines the universe of voters unhappy with their government with the universe of voters who don’t like to make it easier for police to issue them speeding and traffic tickets, it’s would seem this proposal has at least a decent chance of passage. (Note deliberate understatement as an literary device.)

A successful campaign in Mukilteo could spread across the state like  BP oil in the Gulf.  It’s also important to note that Eyman’s two chief lieutenants, Jack and Mike Fagan, are Spokane residents.

I-1053 turn-in: 333,000-plus signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of the initiative to restore the two-thirds majority required for any tax increase are the latest to do a signature drop.

This morning they turned in what sponsor Tim Eyman estimated was more than 333,000 signatures. Like the other petitions turned in so far, that all but guarantees them a spot on the ballot because the threshold is just over 241,000, and a margin like that allows the Secretary of State’s office to do the simpler “spot-check” for validation.

They followed on the heels of I-1107, a plan to repeal most of the temporary consumer taxes (soda, candy, bottled water, but not beer) enacted by the Legislature this spring, which turned in an estimated 395,000 signatures.

That makes five for the ballot: One to privatize liquor sales, one to add private insurance to the mix on workers compensation, one to institute an income tax on people who make more than $200,000, one to repeal taxes that have gone into effect in the last month, and the two-thirds majority.

Another proposal to privatize liquor sales is due in around lunchtime. The proposal to legalize marijuana use didn’t get enough signatures and has cancelled its 4:20 appointment.

Eyman update: Proposal would ban red light cams

OLYMPIA — Initiative guru Tim Eyman’s latest ballot proposal seeks to ban automated ticketing cameras for running red lights in Mukilteo unless they are approved by two-thirds of that city’s council AND a vote of the public.

Spin Control mentioned this morning that Eyman had an event to unveil a new initiative. This is it.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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