Larry Haler’s House Bill 2255 lives on as an initiative to the people

In response to Republican State Representative Larry Haler’s disappointing decision to withdraw House Bill 2255, legislation that sought to replace Tim Eyman’s I-747 with a more sensible property tax policy, NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve today introduced the bill as an initiative to the people to ensure that the proposal will live on and be easily accessible for public discussion and comment.

“We wish Larry Haler had stood behind his bill,” said Villeneuve. “Since he’s chosen to pull it and neither of his Democratic cosponsors wanted to take it over, it’s been erased from the Legislature’s website – as if it never existed. To ensure that it remains accessible, NPI has transformed it into an initiative to the people. The only change we’ve made is to add an intent section. Otherwise, we’ve left the bill as it was.”

Anyone doing a bill-specific search for HB 2255 now sees an error when putting in that number, due to the bill having been withdrawn. A broader search of the Legislature’s website will turn up information pertaining to bills with the same number from other years. The bill’s text stayed up leg.wa.gov for a while longer, but now it’s gone, too.

This morning, Tim Eyman sent out an email to his followers and the media crowing about the bill’s demise and taking credit for having intimidated Haler into withdrawing the bill. Eyman, of course, stands to benefit if Washington State’s tax code remains broken and regressive: it ensures that there will be grist for future initiatives from his mill.

But what’s good for Tim Eyman isn’t good for Washington State.

“We are long overdue for meaningful action to fix our broken tax code,” Villeneuve said. “If Republicans who are in a position of responsibility wish to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem, then they need to declare their independence from Tim Eyman and demonstrate a willingness to work with Democrats on reform.”

“We were encouraged when Larry Haler introduced HB 2255, and just as equally disappointed when he folded under pressure and pulled it. He could have set a good example for his party and done the people of Washington an important service by standing up to Tim Eyman. Eyman may not want to admit it, but Washington’s essential public services – from schools to mental health services to parks to ferries – are woefully underfunded and reliant on the nation’s most regressive tax system for the little money they are getting.”

“How many more times is the Legislature going to take the lowest road and pass a budget that relies on accounting gimmicks, fund transfers, and other trickery to paper over the worsening structural problems we’ve got?” Villeneuve asked.

“And for how much longer are county and city leaders supposed to scrape by under I-747, the Death-By-A-Thousand-Cuts Initiative? Washington’s public services are one of its greatest assets, and we should be protecting and strengthening them… not allowing them to waste away under an ill-conceived Tim Eyman initiative.”

The transformed text of House Bill 2255 is available from the Secretary of State’s website. The just-filed initiative will eventually receive a ballot number, title, and summary, once the text is finalized.

Posted in Legislation & Testimony, Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories | Tagged

Eyman’s I-1366 aims to lock in Washington’s broken tax code… permanently

With Washington State’s regular legislative session now disappearing into the rearview mirror, initiative promoter Tim Eyman has once again turned his attention to aggressively hawking his latest and most destructive scheme yet: Initiative 1366, which he is attempting to qualify to the November ballot with the help of Vancouver developer Clyde Holland’s deep pockets.

I-1366 would wipe out around $1 billion a year in funding for our schools, universities, and other vital public services unless, by next April, the Washington State Legislature overturns the Supreme Court’s League of Education Voters decision by passing a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue. It’s Ted Cruz-style blackmail.

Either outcome of I-1366 would be disastrous for Washington State.

“I-1366 is a mean-spirited, incredibly destructive initiative that represents an all-out attack on the values that Washington was founded on,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve.

“Eyman’s aim is to force lawmakers to permanently sabotage Article II, Section 22 of our state Constitution, to transfer power over key budgeting decisions from the many to the few. Were that to happen, our state’s broken tax code – which is ranked as the nation’s most regressive – would be permanently locked into place. The fate of any tax reform proposal could be perpetually dictated by just one faction of one political party on one side of the Dome, resulting in gridlock and paralysis.”

“And if lawmakers refuse to do as Eyman demands, then his initiative would blow a huge hole in the state’s operating budget, wiping out around $1 billion a year in funding for vital public services like our schools,” Villeneuve added.

“School funding in Washington State is already so low that lawmakers are under a court order to raise it. Eyman’s I-1366 would destroy all the progress that’s been made to date towards complying with McCleary, and then do much more damage on top of that. I-1366 is unconscionable as well as unconstitutional.”

Counting $250,000 in loans he has taken out against his home, Eyman has raised nearly $900,000 for I-1366 to date, according to reports filed with the PDC.

A third of that sum has been provided by Clyde Holland ($300,000). Another $100,000 was donated by longtime Eyman patron Kemper Freeman Jr. of Bellevue, who owns the Bellevue Collection (Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place, Lincoln Square) and ranks behind only Michael Dunmire as Eyman’s top benefactor.

Petitioners are out collecting signatures for I-1366 now. Reports submitted by activists to NPI’s Permanent Defense following their encounters with petitioners document that petitioners – like Eyman – are falsely advertising I-1366 as a revote on the two-thirds vote requirement struck down by the Supreme Court in League of Education Voters (2013).

I-1366 is really a hostage-taking scheme conceived by Eyman to force Democratic lawmakers to vote to overturn the LEV decision.

Eyman needs their cooperation because, contrary to what he says in his emails and on his petitions, he doesn’t have the power to put a constitutional amendment before the voters. Only the Legislature has that power.

Unlike in other states, Washington’s Constitution cannot be amended by ballot initiative, only by a properly-submitted constitutional amendment. The Constitution explicitly states that all amendments must originate in the Legislature. And ironically, before they can be placed on the ballot for consideration by the people, they must receive a two-thirds vote of each house to pass.

Eyman doesn’t have the votes, which is why he’s resorting to blackmail. Getting two-thirds of the Legislature to agree on anything, even small matters, is often difficult to do, particularly in the polarized times we live in.

Eyman knows that I-1366 would fail if he was truthful about his intentions, which is why he is falsely advertising it, as he did with I-1366’s predecessor I-1325 last year.

Eyman’s emails, whether about I-1366 or another subject, are frequently chock full of misinformation and fudged numbers, while lacking in context.

Reporters, editors, producers, and editorial writers are advised to avoid using any Eyman email to source information for a story, column, or editorial.

A debunked version of the email that Eyman sent Monday is available from Permanent Defense’s website.

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged

Anatomy of a Tim Eyman email: Sound bites based on lies, fudged numbers, and missing context

Yesterday morning, Tim Eyman sent out another one of his misinformation-laden missives, ending, as always, with an exhortation to send money to his campaign coffers. On occasion, we fisk and debunk Eyman’s emails to demonstrate that Eyman is not a reputable or trustworthy source of information.

We’re going to do that again today.

This post will examine what is in Eyman’s email (sound bites based on lies, fudged numbers) and what is not (missing context).

Let’s get started.

Sound bites based on lies

EYMAN ARGUMENT: “The 2/3 policy is a shield that protects everyone. United we stand, divided we fall.”

REALITY: Requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue is undemocratic, goes against the values that our state and country were founded on, and results in the few having power over the many, as this pictogram explains:

Democracy requires that decisions be reached by majority vote

Democracy requires that decisions be reached by majority vote

Washington has repeatedly been ranked as having the nation’s most regressive tax system. It’s regressive because those with the least pay the most in taxes as a percentage of their income, while those with the most pay the least. That’s backwards.

The effect of requiring a two-thirds vote to raise or recover revenue for the state treasury is to lock this regressive system into place, removing the legislative process as an avenue for tax reform. That’s the only thing Eyman’s initiatives actually protect. We all ultimately lose – not win – when majority rule is taken away.

Past initiatives to sabotage majority rule, particularly I-1053 and I-1185, were financed by big oil companies, Wall Street banks, and trade groups that have a vested interest in keeping Washington’s broken, outdated, and regressive tax system the way it is.

EYMAN ARGUMENT: “The 2/3 vote requirement for higher taxes protects all of us — individuals and businesses — from Olympia’s insatiable tax appetite.”

REALITY: Olympia is a city, not another name for the Washington State Legislature.

The people of Washington do not need to be protected from their own representatives. Washington is a democracy; the people are in charge and have the power to hire and fire all one hundred forty-seven members of the Legislature, as well as the governor, the executive department, and the justices of the Supreme Court, at regularly-held elections and special elections in case of a vacancy.

Contrary to what Eyman claims, the Legislature rarely votes to raise taxes, even when the Constitution’s Article II, Section 22 (which requires a majority vote for passage of bills) has been followed. Most bills introduced in the House or Senate to raise or recover revenue for the state treasury never become law.

The Legislature’s failure to fix our broken, outdated tax system is negatively impacting our economy and our way of life. Washington currently ranks thirty-fifth in the nation when our state and local taxes are compared to those of other states. That means a majority of states in the Union are investing more than we are in their public services.

All Washington households and businesses rely on our state’s public services – schools, ports, libraries, parks, police, fire, paramedics, hospitals, universities, roads, transit – every day of every year. Our public services are the foundation of our economy, and it is important that we strengthen them, not underfund them.

Taxation is the means by which we pool our resources to get things done. There is wide agreement in principle that taxes should be fairly levied, accurately collected, properly deposited, and responsibly spent, which is why the most important duty of our elected representatives is to write and pass a budget. Budgeting decisions should be made democratically, reflecting the will of the people of Washington. Requiring a two-thirds vote for some budgeting decisions but not others is undemocratic and violates the values our state was founded on.

EYMAN ARGUMENT: “It is critical we get the 2/3-For-Taxes Constitutional Amendment Initiative on the ballot… Voters deserve the chance to put the 2/3 protection in our state Constitution.”

REALITY: There is no such thing as a constitutional amendment initiative – it’s a fiction created by Eyman. In Washington State, all constitutional amendments must originate in the Legislature. The Constitution cannot be amended by initiative.

I-1366 would not change the Washington State Constitution if enacted. What it actually does is cut the state sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5%, resulting in the loss of a billion dollars a year from the state treasury, if the Legislature does not adopt a constitutional amendment to overturn the League of Education Voters decision.

Fudged numbers

Eyman’s email touting his successes consists of numbers that are blatantly inaccurate and inconsistently rounded.

EYMAN CLAIM: ” In 2012, during that high turnout presidential year, our 2/3 initiative passed with 2/3 approval: 1.9 million voters.”

REALITY: Had I-1185 been required to pass by its own two-thirds standard, it would have failed. Two-thirds is equivalent to 66.67%; I-1185 did not receive that level of support. See the actual numbers on the Secretary of State’s website.

EYMAN CLAIM: “In 1999 (and ever since), 56% of voters approved lower car tabs but everyone’s car tabs were reduced, even the 44% who voted no.”

REALITY: Here Eyman is referring to I-695. It received a 56.16% yes vote/43.84% no vote in a local election year in which voter turnout was 57%. King County, the state’s largest, voted the initiative down, as did San Juan and Whatcom counties. Following the election, I-695 was struck down as unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court, and later reinstated by the Legislature.

EYMAN CLAIM: “In 2001 (and ever since), 58% of voters approved a 1% limit on property tax levy increases but everyone’s property taxes were limited, even the 42% who voted no.”

REALITY: Here Eyman is referring to I-747. It actually received a 57.55% yes vote/42.44% no vote in a local election year in which voter turnout was 44.51%. King County, the state’s largest, voted the initiative down, as did Whitman County in eastern Washington. Several years after the election, I-747 was struck down as unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court, and reinstated shortly afterwards by the Legislature.

EYMAN CLAIM: “In 2007, 2010, and 2012, huge majorities of voters approved the 2/3 protection but everyone was protected afterwards, even those who voted no.”

REALITY: Eyman’s I-960, the 2007 initiative, did not get a “huge majority”. It passed in a local election year with 51.24% of the vote; 48.76% voted no. And it’s worth noting that voter turnout in the 2007 general election was just 50.04%. Barely half of the state’s registered voters participated in the election.

It is fair to say that large majorities voted for I-1053 in 2010 and I-1185 in 2012. However, those initiatives were not met with the kind of early, organized opposition they should have faced. Only $98,016.26 was spent against I-1185 in 2012, and of the $1,638,970.66 spent against I-1053 in 2010, the vast majority of contributions and expenditures (90%+) came at the end of the campaign, in October, when voting had begun and when it was getting late to influence the outcome.

Missing context

Eyman’s email fails to mention any of his failures and thus does not accurately present his record. Voters have rejected a number of Eyman schemes to gut funding for public services, mess with transportation policy, and allow electronic slot machines outside of tribal reservations. Eyman’s defeats at the ballot include the following:

  • I-745 in 2000
  • I-892 in 2004
  • I-985 in 2008
  • I-1033 in 2009
  • I-1125 in 2011
  • I-517 in 2013

Additionally, most of the Eyman initiatives that have been passed by voters have been struck down by the Supreme Court in whole or in part as unconstitutional, including I-695 and I-747 (previously mentioned).

For more details, see Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart.

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing | Tagged

Washington State Democratic Party joins coalition opposing Tim Eyman’s I-1366

Some very good news to share: This weekend in Pasco, the Washington State Democratic Party took a position strongly opposing Tim Eyman’s I-1366, following in the footsteps of the King County Democrats and several local Democratic organizations. A resolution approved by the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC) – based on Permanent Defense’s model resolution opposing I-1366 – urges Washingtonians to refrain from signing I-1366 and to emphatically vote NO in the event I-1366 qualifies for the ballot.

NPI thanks the Washington State Democratic Party for taking an early position opposing I-1366 and setting a good example for other organizations to follow.

“I-1366 is the most destructive, mean-spirited initiative ever proposed by Tim Eyman,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve. “I-1366 doesn’t just warrant defeat if it makes the ballot: it deserves to be resoundingly crushed. To give I-1366 the burial it deserves, we’re building an unprecedented, broad, and diverse coalition to fight it. The Washington State Democratic Party was a dependable partner in the incredibly successful campaign against I-517 in 2013, and we’re very pleased to once again have the party with us in this effort.”

“The stakes simply couldn’t be higher. Tim Eyman is trying to blackmail lawmakers into gutting our state’s cherished tradition of majority rule by taking our schools and universities as hostages. Our schools are already underfunded, but Eyman wants to deprive them of billions more if the Legislature doesn’t do as he demands.”

“Eyman may think he’s being clever by ripping a page right out of Ted Cruz’s playbook. But that’s the same playbook that brought us the costly, stupid, and irresponsible 2013 federal government shutdown, which even many Republicans admit was disastrous. We have a moral and constitutional obligation to support our children and ensure that every young person gets a good public education. Those are Washington values that date back to statehood. In 2015, we will stand strong in defense of those values with our campaign against I-1366.”

Posted in Endorsements, From the Campaign Trail |

Statement on Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen’s ruling upholding majority rule

Responding to a point of order from Senator Steve Hobbs of Snohomish County, Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen today ruled in his capacity as President of the Washington State Senate that a rule previously adopted by Senate Republicans that requires two-thirds votes to raise revenue is unconstitutional and thus unenforceable.

“The President has previously stated, The Senate cannot pass a rule that violates the state Constitution,” the Democratic Lieutenant Governor told senators, adding: “Perhaps that statement should be clarified to read, The Senate may adopt an unconstitutional rule, but the President will not enforce it.”

“Lieutenant Governor Owen’s ruling upholding majority rule is an important victory for democracy, sense, and the rule of law,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve. “Senate Republicans have no more right to violate Article II, Section 22 of our state Constitution than Tim Eyman does through the destructive, unconstitutional initiatives he continues to sponsor. Our plan of government clearly states that bills shall pass by majority vote. That means fifty percent or greater: no more and no less. This threshold cannot be altered on a whim by Republicans who would like to make it more difficult to raise the revenue our essential public services need.”

“In January 2013, when Brad Owen once again took the oath of office as Washington’s Lieutenant Governor, he affirmed that he would ‘support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Washington’. His ruling today is in keeping with that oath, and we thank him for faithfully discharging his duties. The people of Washington are well served by his leadership.

Posted in Legislation & Testimony |

Thirteen Years: Statement from the Founder

Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its thirteenth anniversary, marking one hundred and fifty-six months of continuous operation. Since going live on February 15th, 2002, PD has steadfastly provided the Union’s Forty-Second State with badly needed, year-round opposition to destructive right wing initiatives – chiefly those sponsored by Tim Eyman.

As its name implies, it has a simple, vital protective mission: Maintain a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of Washington.

Permanent Defense: Thirteen YearsOver the span of its thirteen-year existence, PD has organized opposition to over two dozen right wing initiatives, working cooperatively with other citizens and organizations to build strong and diverse ballot coalitions capable of connecting with voters. It hasn’t been easy work; not every effort has been successful.

Happily, though, most of the campaigns Permanent Defense has been a part of have ended in victory. That’s something to be very proud of.

Prior to PD’s founding, as we first noted three years ago when PD was celebrating its tenth anniversary, Tim Eyman was getting an initiative past the voters every year. Since PD was founded, however, Eyman has had no consecutive victories at the ballot. His record since 2002 has been marked by consecutive defeats instead.

We’ve made this point on past anniversaries, but it’s always worth emphasizing.

Diving a little deeper, we can quantity Permanent Defense’s successes with some numbers. Over the course of thirteen years, Permanent Defense and NPI have opposed twenty-eight right wing initiatives, including sixteen sponsored by Tim Eyman. Six of those twenty-eight did not make the ballot; fourteen more were defeated by voters.

NPI and Permanent Defense have also been involved in several referendum campaigns. Most of those have also ended in success, notably R-55 (2004), R-67 (2007), R-71 (2009), and R-74 (2012). A couple others have not.

Although we’ve been successful in more than two-thirds of our defensive campaigns, the other side still has a batting average of over .280, to borrow a widely-understood metric from baseball.  That’s an average most baseball players would be happy with. (For those curious, the MLB league-wide batting average for 2014 was .250). Unless we take advantage of our own opportunities to go to the plate and drive in runs, we’ll always be behind. Defense is important, but offense is what wins games.

Politics may not be a sport – real lives are at stake, after all – but the same principle applies. Permanent Defense’s work is important, but going on offense is more important still. That is why, for almost all of its history, Permanent Defense has been part of something larger: the Northwest Progressive Institute. NPI is working to help progressives learn to go on offense, while ensuring that through PD, Tim Eyman’s initiative factory continues to get the year-round opposition it deserves.

And Permanent Defense has been thriving. Its thirteenth year went incredibly well.

At this time last year, Tim Eyman was trying to qualify a Ted Cruz-inspired scheme to blackmail the Legislature into passing a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue. Eyman was unable to find a wealthy benefactor to finance a signature drive for I-1325, and it thankfully didn’t make the ballot.

After I-1325 crashed and burned, Eyman tried to convince the business community (which he had betrayed in 2012) to give him money to front a new statewide initiative to prohibit cities like SeaTac and Seattle from setting their own minimum wages.

However, as with I-1325, Eyman could not find any wealthy benefactors willing to finance a signature drive. He did receive some seed money, in the form of two $50,000 contributions from Seattle Republicans Faye Garneau and Suzie Burke, plus a smaller contribution from Don Root, but his appeals for funds otherwise went unanswered.

The last time that two successive Eyman schemes failed to qualify for the ballot was 2006, eight years ago. That was also the last time that Washington enjoyed a general election ballot free of any Eyman initiatives.

The 2014 midterms may have yielded some awful results, particularly in other states, but Washington bucked the national trend with a progressive ballot sweep. Initiatives to lower class size and make background checks on gun sales universal were approved, while an initiative that attempted to thwart universal background checks was defeated.

And that wasn’t all. Voters also denied Eyman ammunition for additional attacks on legislators by voting “Maintained” on the two unconstitutional advisory votes that appeared on the ballot.

I-1325’s failure last year so disappointed Eyman that he has resolved to try to qualify a measure that is almost identical to the 2016 ballot: I-1366.

Like I-1325, I-1366 would wipe out a billion dollars a year in funding for schools and other vital public services if the Legislature does not pass a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue. It’s the worst scheme Eyman has ever come up with, and that’s saying something.

Eyman has still apparently not found a wealthy benefactor to put money behind this awful idea, so he’s decided to take out a mortgage on his house to fund a signature drive for the time being. Eyman is spending $150,000 in borrowed money to employ paid signature gatherers to collect signatures for I-1366 for the next few weeks.

In the past, Eyman has been able to find a wealthy benefactor to finance his initiative factory when he needed one. We are therefore assuming that I-1366 will be on the ballot. If it meets the same fate as I-1325, all well and good, but we can’t afford to wait and hope that Eyman falls short. I-1366 is incredibly destructive and it needs opposition now. We will provide that early opposition and ask other organizations to join us in building a strong coalition to defeat I-1366.  To do that, we need your help.

  • If you are not a member of the Northwest Progressive Institute, we urge you to become one. Members are the backbone of NPI’s supporter community, providing the time, talent, and treasure that makes NPI’s work possible.
  • If you see a petitioner collecting signatures for I-1366, we ask that you report your experience immediately so we can track Eyman’s signature drive.
  • And if you are free on the evening of April 10th, 2015, we encourage you to join us for NPI’s seventh Spring Fundraising Gala, where we will explain what we’re doing to mobilize opposition to I-1366.

Through perseverance and hard work, we have won many victories over these past thirteen years. Tim Eyman may be relentless, but so are we. We don’t give in and we don’t give up, because our Constitution and our commonwealth need safeguarding.

We need this fighting spirit to be contagious. Join us in helping make it so.

Here’s to a great fourteenth year for Permanent Defense.

Posted in Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged , ,

NPI’s Permanent Defense ready to fight Eyman’s I-1366

This morning, Tim Eyman announced that he will once again be attempting to qualify an initiative to the ballot that would wipe out around $1 billion per year in revenue for schools and other vital public services unless, by April 2016, the Legislature passes a constitutional amendment sabotaging Article II, Section 22 of the state Constitution, which requires that bills shall pass by majority vote.

NPI organized against last year’s incarnation of this awful, Ted Cruz-inspired scheme, and stands ready to do so again this year.

“For thirteen years, NPI’s Permanent Defense has strived to provide Tim Eyman’s initiative factory with the vigorous opposition that it deserves,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve. “We’re prepared to go to work building a strong coalition to defeat I-1366; we consider today to be the first day of the NO on I-1366 campaign.”

“Last year’s incarnation of I-1366, I-1325, did not make the ballot, but that doesn’t mean I-1366 won’t,” Villeneuve added.

“We know well from past experience that all Eyman needs is one wealthy benefactor to underwrite his scheme, and he’s in business.”

“But no one who cares about what happens to their money should give Eyman so much as a cent. He and his associates remain under investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission for alleged lawbreaking during the I-517 campaign in 2012.”

“During the spring, summer, and fall of 2012, Eyman ran a signature drive for I-517 in stealth mode, failing to report contributions and expenditures in a timely fashion. Evidence suggests Eyman used money from a different initiative, I-1185, to underwrite I-517 – without telling the corporations and trade groups that gave to I-1185 what he was doing. His actions then and now are part of a long pattern of deceptions dating back to his raiding of campaign funds for his own personal use around the turn of the century.”

Three things to know about I-1366

  • It’s basically a clone of last year’s I-1325, which the Spokesman-Review editorial board called “his worst ever – and that’s saying something”. They added: “This is not about protecting taxpayers. I-1325 is about keeping Eyman in business.”
  • It’s likely unconstitutional. If enacted, I-1366 would drastically cut state revenue (by slashing the sales tax) if the Legislature did not pass a constitutional amendment to require two-thirds votes for revenue increases by April 2016. The state Supreme Court has already held the Legislature in contempt for failing to fully fund our public schools in the wake of the McCleary decision. A new Eyman initiative which tries to blackmail lawmakers by wiping out $1 billion a year in funding for schools and other public services in the event they don’t do his bidding is unlikely to survive a court challenge.
  • Eyman is falsely advertising I-1366 as a “constitutional amendment” and a “constitutional amendment initiative”, like he did with I-1325. Initiatives are not constitutional amendments; furthermore, there is no such thing a constitutional amendment initiative. See our advisory about this from last year.

An annotated version of the text of I-1325 (again, last year’s version) is also available on Permanent Defense’s website which debunks each of its provisions. I-1366 has some new provisions that I-1325 does not have, but otherwise it appears to be the same destructive and mean-spirited initiative I-1325 was.

Posted in Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged , ,

Tim Eyman’s “analysis” of initiative-related bills and amendments isn’t to be trusted

Throughout the past week and a half, Tim Eyman has been sending a flurry of emails to his followers and the media decrying proposals in the Legislature to change the initiative process, particularly Senate Joint Resolution 8201 and House Joint Resolution 4204, which would amend the Constitution to prevent Washingtonians from filing initiatives that do not fiscally balance.

We have reviewed the contents of these messages and found them riddled with statements that are lacking context or inaccurate. Eyman’s commentary is, in a word, sloppy. We urge reporters and producers to do their own research and not rely on any of Eyman’s emails for information about SJR 8201, HJR 4204, or any of the other bills Eyman is attacking.

Here are a few examples of what we mean when we say sloppy:

EYMAN CLAIM: “Thanks to your emails, Olympia’s anti-initiative bills are imploding… Amid all-out mutiny, Sen. Joe Fain abandons constitutional amendment attacking initiative process” (Eyman email, Friday, January 30th, 2015)

MISSING CONTEXT: Eyman would no doubt like to be credited with stopping SJR 8201 and HJR 4204 in their tracks, but what he doesn’t acknowledge is that these resolutions aren’t just opposed by him and his followers. Secretary of Kim Wyman’s office strongly opposes SJR 8201 and HJR 4204, as does the Northwest Progressive Institute (see our analysis from last Friday, which looks at three fatal flaws in SJR 8201 in-depth). The truth is, SJR 8201 and HJR 4204 are unworkable, and that’s why neither is likely to even get a public hearing.

OLYMPIA IS A CITY, NOT THE STATE LEGISLATURE: Tim Eyman is very fond of using Olympia as a metonym for the state Legislature and state government – as are others active in Washington State politics. However, as Olympia blogger Emmett O’Connell notes, Olympia is a city of nearly fifty thousand people that happens to be the home of the Capitol Campus. While it is entirely appropriate for a story about state government to use a byline bearing the city’s name, we encourage reporters and commentators not to use Olympia as a metonym for state government. In many situations, the word statehouse works rather well as a substitute.

EYMAN CLAIM: “There’s a new bill this year House Bill 1228 — co-sponsored by R’s and D’s — that requires the state budget office (OFM) to do a fiscal analysis of any initiative that qualifies for the ballot and requires their fiscal report to be printed in the voters pamphlet.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Who can be against that? The problem? It’s already the law.” (Eyman email, Thursday, January 29th, 2015)

THIS IS IN ERROR: Tim Eyman may have been fooled into thinking that HB 1228 restates current law by reading its official description (Requiring fiscal impact statements for ballot measures). But if he had bothered to read through the text of the bill carefully (PDF), he would have discovered that what the bill actually does is require proponents and opponents of initiatives to respond to OFM’s initiative fiscal impact statement for their arguments in the voter’s pamphlet. Section 2 of HB 1228 adds the following phrase to RCW 29A.32.060 and 2003 c 111 s 806:

Committees shall write and submit arguments advocating the approval or rejection of each statewide ballot issue ((and)), rebuttals of those arguments, and statements responding to each fiscal impact statement prepared by the office of financial management.

EYMAN CLAIM: “Their bill [SJR 8201] will mean the end of the initiative process because it will give the government the power to shut down any initiative they see as a threat. Any initiative can easily be found to be ‘out of compliance’ with this bill’s requirement.” (Eyman email, Thursday, January 22nd, 2015)

SJR 8201 IS A RESOLUTION, NOT A BILL: Contrary to what Tim says above, SJR 8201 is not a bill. Tim ought to know this after over fifteen years of involvement in Washington politics, but constitutional amendments and statutes (ordinary laws) are different things, and the distinction matters. Laws begin as bills; the Constitution says bills require a majority vote to pass (Article II, Section 22). Constitutional amendments begin as resolutions; they require a two-thirds vote to pass (Article XXIII, Section 1).

SJR 8201 WOULDN’T MEAN THE END OF ALL INITIATIVES: Be wary of the hyperbole contained in Eyman’s emails. While SJR 8201 would indeed significantly narrow the people’s initiative power by barring initiatives that do not “fiscally balance” from receiving ballot titles, it would not end the process altogether. This is hardly the first time Eyman has exaggerated the impact of a resolution or bill he didn’t like, and it won’t be the last, either.

EYMAN CLAIM: “Citizens are forced to accept thousands of the Legislature’s laws; it’s not too much to ask that elected representatives stop throwing childish temper tantrums over the handful passed by the people.” (Eyman email, Thursday, January 29th, 2015)

ALL OF WASHINGTON’S LAWS ARE THE PEOPLE’S LAWS: Tim Eyman frequently attempts to portray the Legislature as a villain. His contempt for republicanism is regrettable. Like the United States as a whole, Washington was founded as a representative democracy, and remains one today. The Washington State Legislature is a representative body; its members are chosen every two and four years in free elections that are open to every citizen of voting age who is not serving a felony sentence. Laws passed by the Legislature are as much the people’s laws as those enacted by initiative. Unlike the initiative and referendum, which were added to the Constitution in the 1900s, the Legislature is an institution that dates back to statehood. The initiative and referendum were not intended to supplant the Legislature, but rather to complement it. It is logical that the vast majority of our state’s laws have come out of the Legislature; lawmaking is what the Legislature exists to do.

Posted in Legislation & Testimony, Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories |

Senate adopts rules requiring a two-thirds vote for new revenue; NPI’s Permanent Defense responds

This afternoon, by a vote of twenty-six to twenty-three, the Washington State Senate adopted a set of procedural rules containing an unprecedented new provision specifying that bills that would create new sources of revenue to fund Washington’s common wealth must attain a two-thirds vote in order to advance.

The whole of the Senate Republican caucus voted for the rules, while the whole of the Democratic caucus voted against.

NPI is very disappointed in today’s undemocratic action by the Senate and particularly those senators who engineered it… Michael Baumgartner and Doug Ericksen.

“Less than two hours after taking their oaths of office, Senate Republicans stomped all over our state’s cherished tradition of majority rule by pushing through a change to Senate procedure that aims to give one-third of senators the ability to block bold new ideas that would strengthen our commonwealth,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve. “Ironically, they used a majority vote to to infringe on majority rule, because they cannot muster the two-thirds required to amend our state’s Constitution as Tim Eyman has demanded.”

“We are grateful to the twenty-three Democratic members of the Washington State Senate for rallying together to uphold our Constitution and defend the principle of majority rule with minority rights, which our state was founded on,” Villeneuve added. “We particularly wish to commend Senators David Frockt and Bob Hasegawa for their eloquent speeches on the Senate floor. They and their colleagues took a stand for democracy and republicanism, while the Republicans pushed through a rules change that dishonors the name of their party. They are behaving like enablers of plutocracy, and that’s what they deserve to be called.”

“The real purpose of today’s vote was to shield Senate Republicans’ powerful and wealthy friends – including companies like BP, ConocoPhillips, Tesoro, and Shell – from having to worry about paying their fair share in dues to our state anytime soon. It is well known among policymakers that our state’s tax obligations presently fall hardest on families with the least, and Republicans want to make sure it stays that way. Shame on them.”

“We look forward to the day when this rules change is overturned. We at the Northwest Progressive Institute will never stop fighting to protect our state’s cherished tradition of majority rule, which is also the law of our land, as set forth in our Constitution and affirmed by our Supreme Court.”

Posted in Legislation & Testimony, Threat Analysis | Tagged

State Senate should heed the words of our Founding Fathers and protect majority rule

In a press release issued yesterday, Republican State Senators Michael Baumgartner and Doug Ericksen announced that when the Legislature convenes for its long session next Monday, they will propose changing the rules of the Washington State Senate to require a two-thirds vote to advance bills that raise revenue, in a blatant attempt to contravene the State Supreme Court’s decision in League of Education Voters.

NPI adamantly opposes this attempt to undermine majority rule in the Senate, and reminds all forty-nine members of the Senate and ninety-eight members of the House that our nation’s Founding Fathers are on record as opposed to schemes that transfer power from the many to the few.

In The Federalist, authored between October of 1787 and August 1788, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay laid out what is still widely considered to be the best explanation and defense of the plan of government that became the Constitution of the United States of America.

Two of the essays in The Federalist discuss the question of balancing majority rule with minority rights, and each arrives at the very same conclusion: Requiring thresholds higher than a majority  to take action is unwise and dangerous. A majority is greater than fifty percent: no more, no less.

From The Federalist No. 22, authored by Alexander Hamilton:

[W]hat at first sight may seem a remedy, is, in reality, a poison. To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser. Congress, from the nonattendance of a few States, have been frequently in the situation of a Polish diet, where a single VOTE has been sufficient to put a stop to all their movements.

And again from that same essay:

If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.

From The Federalist No. 58, authored by James Madison:

It has been said that more than a majority ought to have been required for a quorum; and in particular cases, if not in all, more than a majority of a quorum for a decision. That some advantages might have resulted from such a precaution, cannot be denied. It might have been an additional shield to some particular interests, and another obstacle generally to hasty and partial measures. But these considerations are outweighed by the inconveniences in the opposite scale. In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority.

“The Washington State Senate should heed the words of our Founding Fathers and reject Michael Baumgartner and Doug Ericksen’s undemocratic scheme to transfer power from the many to the few,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve.

“Our state’s founders drew inspiration from Madison, Hamilton, Jay, and the other Founding Fathers to give us a plan of government that balances majority rule with minority rights. This proposed rule change would undermine and dishonor their good work, which they left to us and the generations that will follow after us.”

“Our state’s tradition of majority rule dates from statehood and it’s up to us to protect it. The Legislature was purposefully designed to be able to arrive at decisions on important questions like raising revenue democratically. We have already seen at the federal level how undemocratic procedural rules can be used to stop Congress from functioning as it was intended to. We don’t need that kind of manufactured gridlock here in the real Washington. The state Senate must say no to Baumgartner and Ericksen’s proposal.”

Posted in Legislation & Testimony, Threat Analysis |
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