OLYMPIA – Last week’s legislative maneuver to amend an initiative before it becomes law is being challenged in court.
Tim Eyman, who makes his living by sponsoring initiatives, filed a lawsuit Monday in Thurston County Superior Court asking for an order that would put Initiative 940 on the November ballot, along with an alternative measure consisting of the changes the Legislature made after consultation with sponsors and opponents.
Eyman, who is not an attorney but is representing himself, quotes from the debate that took place on the final day of the 2018 session in arguing the Legislature did not have the legal authority to amend an initiative before it takes effect.
Listing himself as “an aggrieved voter,” Eyman quotes from Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the responsibilities of government, and Hans Christian Andersen, stating “The emperor has no clothes.”
I-940 would set new standards for reviewing and possibly prosecuting actions involving deadly force by law enforcement. Written as an initiative to the Legislature, it collected nearly 360,000 signatures before being turned in late last year.
Law enforcement agencies objected to some elements in the proposed law’s “good faith” standard for determining whether deadly force was necessary and worked with initiative sponsors to rewrite that section and other parts of the measure.
Under the constitution, an initiative to the Legislature has three routes: It can be approved by both houses and become law; it can be ignored or rejected by legislators and go on the November ballot; or lawmakers can pass an alternative initiative, and both go on the November ballot.
The Legislature opted to pass a separate bill with the changes negotiated by law enforcement and the sponsors. After that was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on the final day of the session, lawmakers approved the initiative to take effect June 7, a day before the amendments to the measure are scheduled to become law.
Eyman asked for a court order that would declare those actions void, along with an order to put I-940 on the November ballot along with an alternative initiative containing the language in the separate bill.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who is named a plaintiff because her office processes initiatives, asked the court to rule quickly so the case can be resolved before voter guides and ballots are printed for the November election.