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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Sunday Spin 2: This seems familiar

In what may be considered a mid-summer ritual, an initiative sponsored by Tim Eyman qualified last week for the November ballot and was denounced by his ardent detractors. Eyman comes up with some initiative or another every year – it’s his business, after all – and his opponents stay exercised by pointing out what’s wrong with them.

This year he wants to force the Legislature into sending voters a constitutional amendment next year that would require legislators to approve tax increases with a two-thirds super-majority.

Such an amendment would have to pass both chambers by that same super-majority. Because it is difficult to force the Legislature to do anything with a simple majority, let alone the higher standard, Initiative 1366 contains a gun-to-the-head provision. The state sales tax would be dropped by 1 cent per dollar if the Legislature doesn’t comply. That’s a hit of more than $1 billion a year to the state’s coffers.

Within 24 hours of the petition signatures being certified, opponents were asking a court to keep the initiative off the ballot. This is a common, but rarely successful, strategy because the Supreme Court usually declines to rule on the legality of an initiative unless voters pass it. Until that happens, it is what Joey Tribbiani of “Friends” used to call a “moo point”, that is, it’s like a cow’s opinion; it doesn’t matter. 

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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