Washingtonians should reject Eyman’s I-807

Essay At A Glance

Once there lived a fraternity wristwatch distributor in a seaside town called Mukilteo who discovered that proposing laws to defund public services to unsuspecting fellow citizens was a lot more lucrative than selling wristwatches to fraternities. He decided to go into business full-time promoting initiatives and assailing the people chosen by his fellow citizens to govern. He joined forces with a group of fellow barn-burners from around the state and began annually qualifying initiatives to the ballot intended to wreck state and local government.

For several years, business seemed good, though the wristwatch distributor was falsely claiming to be promoting the initiatives as a volunteer. In reality, he was helping himself to as much money as he could, while hypocritically denouncing his opponents for waging opposition campaigns with hired help, and relying on paid signature gatherers to force votes on his initiatives. Two of his early initiatives were struck down by the courts, while a third was defeated by voters, but that didn’t deter the watch distributor in the slightest.

By the time the watch distributor began promoting his sixth initiative, though, he was forced to admit that he had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds. He had lied and attempted to conceal evidence that he was paying himself for a very long time, but ultimately was forced to admit the truth. The watch distributor claimed his conscience had caught up him, and claimed that from now on, he would openly seek to be compensated handsomely for his “work”. This watch distributor’s name? Tim Eyman. His operation? Permanent Offense.

One year after admitting to taking his supporters’ money, Eyman is promoting a new, bad idea. He wants to unconstitutionally require a two-thirds vote to pass any bill that would raise revenue to keep our public services funded. Not only is this completely undemocratic, it’s also unsound and unworkable. Lawmakers are elected to create laws. They should not be restrained from doing the jobs they were elected to do.

I-807 is a blatant attempt by Eyman to sabotage Washington’s Constitution. Ever the slick salesman, Eyman will no doubt con some voters into believe this is a good idea during a recession, when we face a budget crisis that we expect our elected officials to fix. But it’s not. Like past Eyman initiatives, the ultimate aim of I-807 is to strangle our common wealth, wiping out funding for transportation, education, parks, fire, police, health, libraries, and countless other essential public services. We depend on our public services, and we can’t have them for free.

Furthermore, this initiative is supposed to be retroactive to a past legislative session. That means after it takes effect, it’s supposed to apply to the 2003 legislative session — but that legislative session will have already taken place months prior to the initiative’s qualification. I-807 is a malicious attempt to hinder lawmakers who are trying to write a balanced budget without gutting services.

I-807, like Linda Smith’s I-601 before it, is unconstitutional. Article II, Section 22 of our Constitution says quite plainly that bills (including budgets) pass by majority vote. And majority vote means greater than fifty percent. Not three-fourths, three-fifths, or two-thirds… greater than fifty percent. It’s the only threshold that makes sense in a democratic society. Any other threshold means that a minority are in control of what happens — not the majority.

If a two-thirds vote was the threshold for passage of initiatives, Tim Eyman wouldn’t have a successful initiative to his name. He wants to force legislators to operate by rules that are not only unconstitutional and contrary to tradition, but rules he doesn’t have to operate by himself — and doesn’t want to have to operate by.

The people of Washington choose lawmakers in free and fair elections to make laws. We should let our elected representatives do their jobs under the rules that our state’s founders left for us. Our system of government works; it has endured for decades and it will continue to endure so long as we uphold our Constitution.

Tim Eyman’s attack on representative democracy must not go unanswered. Join us in protecting our republic by declining to sign I-807 and urging fellow citizens to learn the truth about Eyman’s initiative factory by visiting Permanent Defense’s website.

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Permanent Defense works to protect Washington by building a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of the Evergreen State — like Tim Eyman's initiative factory. Learn more.

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