It is too late to rectify this problem in the short term. The stage for this sorry situation was set long ago. But the Legislature and Governor Inslee can make sure the future is different. Washington State Ferries needs more than a shot in the arm to become healthy in the 2020s. It needs a robust, large, ongoing investment. It needs dedicated revenue.
Read NPI’s statement thanking the plaintiffs and their attorneys for a job well done making the case against Tim Eyman’s initiative to wipe out funding for multimodal transportation infrastructure. The case is now submitted and a final decision is expected from the Supreme Court in the fall of 2020.
Today, the Washington State Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Garfield County Transportation Authority, et al. v. State of Washington, the legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976, with a final ruling expected to follow in several months’ time, perhaps in the autumn of this year.
I-976 is the measure that voters considered and adopted last year that concerns transportation funding; I-976 was concocted to wipe out billions of dollars in funding for non-highway modes of transportation, which Eyman ideologically opposes investing in.
The case, No. 98320-8, seeks the complete invalidation of Initiative 976 on the grounds that it violates multiple provisions of the Washington State Constitution, including the single subject rule and the subject-in-title rule. The plaintiffs/appellants are Garfield County Transportation Authority, the City of Seattle, King County, the Washington State Transit Association, the Association of Washington Cities, the Port of Seattle, Intercity Transit of Thurston County, the Amalgamated Transit Union Legislative Council of Washington, and Michael Rogers.
The defendant/respondent is the State of Washington due to I-976’s passage last November by a submajority of Washington State voters.
(We user the term submajority because just 23.44% of the state’s then 4,503,871 registered voters voted for I-976, while 20.80% voted no and 55.76% did not vote at all.)
The intervenor-plaintiffs (appellants) are Washington Adapt, the Transit Riders Union, and Climate Solutions; the intervenor-defendants (respondents) are Clint Didier, Permanent Offense, Tim Eyman, Mike Fagan, Jack Fagan, and Pierce County.
The outcome of the legal challenge will determine whether I-976 ever goes into effect or not.
The State is currently barred from implementing the initiative by an injunction originally issued by King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson last November and subsequently sustained by the Washington State Supreme Court.
The Court will have the final word as to I-976’s constitutionality when it eventually rules.
The Court has previously struck down, in whole or in part, the following Eyman initiatives:
I-695 from 2000: Struck down because it violated Article II, Section 19. See ATU v. State.
I-1366 from 2015: Struck down because it violated Article II, Section 19. See Lee v. State.
Appellants assert that I-976 is unconstitutional on multiple fronts, including on an Article II, Section 19 basis, and therefore must be struck down in its entirety. The major issues in the case, as identified by the appellants, are as follows:
Does I-976 violate article II, section 19 single subject requirements because it combines multiple subjects that are not germane to each other?
Does I-976 violate article II, section 19 subject in title requirements because its ballot title affirmatively misrepresents what the measure “would do” and does not include necessary subjects?
Does I-976 violate article II, section 37 by amending existing statutes without setting the amendments forth in full, thereby resulting in confusion as to the effect of the new law?
May unconstitutional provisions of an initiative be severed from the measure when they were included in the ballot title?
Does I-976 violate article XI, section 12 by depriving municipal governments of vested local taxing authority for local purposes prior to expiration of the local tax?
Does I-976 violate Washington’s separation of powers doctrine through legislative intrusion on the executive function of administering bond repayment?
Does I-976 violate article VII, section 5 by diverting tax dollars from the purposes approved by local voters?
The I-976 ballot title — which our team at NPI has previously characterized as a blazing dumpster fire — is likely to receive a lot of attention during today’s oral argument. Titles are the language that voters see on their ballots when they open them up to vote. The title is supposed to be a representative summary of the measure which ends in a question. The I-976 ballot title was as follows:
Initiative Measure No. 976 concerns motor vehicle taxes and fees.
This measure would repeal, reduce, or remove authority to impose certain vehicle taxes and fees; limit annual motor-vehicle-license fees to $30, except voter-approved charges; and base vehicle taxes on Kelley Blue Book value.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]
(It is also worth noting that in addition to misrepresenting what the measure would do from a revenue perspective, the ballot title utterly failed to mention that the measure would have a destructive effect on a huge number of already approved transportation projects.)
While I-976’s deceptive ballot title was a huge asset to sponsor Tim Eyman during the campaign phase of the battle over I-976, it now appears to be a potentially fatal liability that could ensure the initiative never takes effect at all.
Though today’s oral argument will definitely be worth watching, it’s worth remembering that the written record is far more important. Attorneys who argue cases before the Supreme Court like to say that ninety percent of a case is the briefs. So, to properly understand this case, we recommend reading the briefs linked above… or scanning them if you’ve got a limited amount of time to devote to this subject.
This afternoon in Olympia, right wing activists submitted what they said were more than 260,000 signatures in support of Referendum 90, a measure that seeks to force a November 2020 statewide vote on ESSB 5395, Washington’s new comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) law. Under the Washington State Constitution, sponsors and backers of R-90 had until the close of business today to submit 129,811 valid signatures from Washington voters. The campaign’s claimed total easily exceeds this number, although the signatures must still be validated via random sample check before a determination of qualification can be made.
Following the submission of signatures, Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve pledged that NPI would work hard to secure a vote of approval from the people that sustains ESSB 5395 this autumn.
“Washingtonians deserve a vigorous campaign in defense of our sorely needed comprehensive sexual health education law,” said Villeneuve. “NPI is committed to helping build a broad coalition to make that happen. Knowledge is power, and it’s critically important that young people have the information they need to make safe and healthy decisions, no matter what zip code they live in. That’s why our state needs ESSB 5395. We are fired up to defend this law on the November 2020 ballot.”
More than two out of three Washingtonians surveyed last autumn support comprehensive sexual health education, Villeneuve noted. “Last autumn, before the 2020 legislative session, we asked likely Washington voters about their views on ESSB 5395. 67% expressed support, and nearly fifty percent told us that they strongly supported the bill.”
“So when the right wing says this legislation is unpopular, what they really mean is that it’s unpopular with their base. Their base, however, is not a majority of the electorate in the State of Washington. They’ve demonstrated that they have a capability to force a public vote on this issue. Now we intend to demonstrate that a majority supports keeping this important new law in place.”
“We’re ready to wage a campaign that brings Washingtonians together in support of providing our young people with the curriculum they need to make safe and healthy decisions. We look forward to fostering a dialogue with the public about the value of comprehensive sexual health education, and debunking the lies and misinformation that the right wing has been circulating about ESSB 5395.”
Here’s the question NPI asked, and the responses we received:
QUESTION: The Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction has asked the Washington State Legislature to adopt legislation requiring all Washington state schools to teach inclusive, evidence-informed, scientifically accurate, comprehensive sexual health education, which must include “affirmative consent” curriculum. Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose this legislation?
Strongly Support: 49%
Somewhat Support: 18%
Somewhat Oppose: 7%
Strongly Oppose: 15%
Not Sure: 11%
Our survey of nine hundred likely 2019 Washington State voters was in the field October 22nd-23rd, 2019. The survey used a blended methodology with automated phone calls to landlines and text messages to cell phone only respondents. The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling for NPI, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence level. More details about NPI’s poll finding are available in this Cascadia Advocate post.
Today, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that disgraced initiative promoter turned gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman has been ordered by Chief Judge Marc Barrecca of the United States Bankruptcy Court to begin paying the penalties he has been racking up in the state’s long-running campaign finance enforcement lawsuit against him.
Eyman must pay $278,137.93 immediately and then must make substantial monthly payments until he has satisfied his obligations. The order covers what he already owes to the people of the State of Washington, plus any future judgments. Eyman shall be eligible for a one percent interest rate as long as he pays on time. If he doesn’t, then the interest rate increases to twelve percent for the remaining amount.
“Tim Eyman has been evading responsibility and accountability for his lawbreaking for an extremely long time,” said Villeneuve.
“The citizen complaint that precipitated this lawsuit was originally filed in the summer of 2012… almost eight years ago. And let’s remember that it was a citizen complaint that started all of this. That complaint was originally filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, which then turned the matter over to the Attorney General’s office.”
“At every stage of the investigation and subsequent court action, Tim Eyman has been uncooperative. His repeated refusals to turn over documents and records needed to bring the truth to light has caused this case to drag on for a very long time. And while he may have reaped a short term payoff from his stonewalling in the extreme legal defense strategy, it is not going to work over the long-term, as today’s decision shows.”
“Our team at NPI is very pleased that the Attorney General’s office has concluded that Tim Eyman’s violations of our public disclosure laws were intentional and will be seeking triple penalties,” said Villeneuve. “Tim Eyman must be made to pay a steep price for operating above the law for so long. Today, we saw real progress towards the important goal of holding Eyman accountable. That’s great news to get in bad times.”
In addition to heading the Northwest Progressive Institute, Villeneuve is a boardmember of Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG) a group that works to ensure Washington’s campaign finance laws are upheld and enforced. Fellow WFEG director Sherry Bockwinkel filed the aforementioned complaint with the PDC that was ultimately referred to the Attorney General for prosecution.
This afternoon, King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson ruled that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 would remain on ice for the time being, granting a motion by the plaintiffs who have challenged its constitutionality to keep an injunction in place that bars its implementation. I-976 seeks to eliminate billions of dollars in funding for essential transportation needs at the state, regional, and local levels; it passed last November and was immediately subjected to a legal challenge.
Judge Ferguson’s order preserves the status quo while the case progresses in the Washington State Supreme Court. The parties in the case have asked the Court to decide the fate of the preliminary injunction, which was initially issued by Judge Ferguson the day before Thanksgiving last year. The Supreme Court has already upheld the injunction once. Now plaintiffs are asking that it be kept in place until the legal challenge is resolved. Attorney General Bob Ferguson, on the other hand, has asked that the injunction be lifted.
Earlier this week, in a Tuesday email, Tim Eyman falsely told his followers and the press that I-976 would be going into effect today (Friday).
“HUGE VICTORY,” Eyman’s subject line declared. “Judge Ferguson signs Final Judgment Order three days early, I-976 takes effect on Friday.”
Of course, that was a lie. The aforementioned order concerned the disposition of the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims and did not concern the preliminary injunction.
But today’s order does. Judge Marshall Ferguson wrote that it is “ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that Plaintiffs’ Emergency Motion is GRANTED. The date to lift the preliminary injunction entered in this matter on November 27, 2019 is continued from March 27, 2020 until such date when the Washington Supreme Court rules on Plaintiffs’ Emergency Motion for Stay Pending Review.”
Consequently, I-976 will not be going into effect today as Eyman claimed.
Unusually, Eyman tacitly admitted that his statement about I-976 going into effect was a fabrication in the very same email that he sent out on Tuesday.
Buried in the email, above Eyman’s signature line, was the following:
“To be clear: On behalf of taxpayers, I can’t declare victory yet, but it’s looking good that anxious citizens will get some needed tax relief very soon,” Eyman conceded.
Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve thanked media outlets for not picking up on Eyman’s lie and thereby misinforming more Washingtonians about the status of the case.
“These are difficult times and people need accurate, reliable information,” said Villeneuve. “A public health crisis like this coronavirus pandemic reminds us how important the truth is and how important science is. Sadly, Tim Eyman doesn’t care about truth or science. He wants so badly for I-976 to be implemented that he keeps publicly pretending that it has gone into effect… or imminently will.”
“However, I-976 remains on ice. The Supreme Court will have the final word on I-976’s constitutionality, as it always does in a case like this. Like Judge Ferguson, the justices are aware that if the injunction were to be lifted but the initiative later found unconstitutional, the people’s public services would be irreparably harmed.”
“We hope and expect that the Court will keep the injunction in place until it reaches a final decision with respect to Plaintiffs’ constitutional claims.”
The case is Garfield County Transportation Authority et al vs. State of Washington et al, 19-2-30171-6 SEA.
Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its eighteenth anniversary, marking one two hundred and sixteen months of continuous operation.
The events of the past twelve months have served as a reminder of how important and essential Permanent Defense’s work is.
After a multi-year stretch with almost no right wing measures on the statewide ballot, we faced an election in which there were two (Initiative 976 and Referendum 88) in yet another odd-numbered year with poor turnout.
We did not realize our 2019 electoral goals, but our work goes on. The results of last November’s election were a setback, but not the end of the story. We refuse to lose.
We simply can’t afford the destructive cuts to multimodal transportation infrastructure that would result from the implementation of Tim Eyman’s I-976, nor can we allow Eyman’s Initiative 200 to remain in place for another two decades.
2019 also reminded us how tough it is to wage campaigns when the opposition has a stacked deck working in their favor. Going forward, we must end abusive practices like ballot title shopping that make it laughably easy for scammers like Eyman to perpetrate their cons. And we must eliminate Eyman’s taxpayer-funded propaganda from the ballot.
Even though the 2019 ballot was rigged against us with deceptive, poorly written ballot titles and propaganda, we went all in to defeat Initiative 976 and save Initiative 1000.
And we have no regrets about that. Our communities are worth defending from bad ballot measures. Even in an electoral landscape rigged against us, taking a stand for the values our state was founded upon was the just and moral thing to do.
I have no doubt that were it not for the work of NPI’s Permanent Defense project and Keep Washington Rolling/Washington Fairness Coalition partners, the outcomes of both initiatives would have been very lopsided in favor of the right wing. By taking a stand, we brought down the opposition’s margin of victory significantly.
During the past twelve months, in addition to opposing I-976, we also opposed three other Tim Eyman ballot measures that all failed to qualify:
and Initiative 1082.
Referendum 80 sought to nullify a set of pay increases approved by Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials, while Initiatives 1608 and 1082 were attempts to repeal modest revenue reforms adopted by the Legislature in the 2019 long session. All three measures died after their signature drives ended in failure.
Were it not for our work to hold Tim Eyman accountable for his lying, cheating, and stealing, Eyman might have been able to line up one or more wealthy benefactors to put money behind those measures, like he has in years past. But he wasn’t able to.
All the while, Eyman was racking up fines in Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s long-running campaign finance enforcement case against him due to his continuing and willful violations of court orders, which have landed him in contempt.
We wish the Attorney General’s office well in their determined and sorely needed efforts to hold Eyman accountable. This summer, the case against Eyman is scheduled to go to trial, and we will be following the proceedings with great interest.
Even in difficult times and difficult circumstances, there are bright spots. I’m very proud of the groundbreaking initiatives Permanent Defense undertook in support of Initiative 1000 and against Initiative 976 in 2019. They made a difference and demonstrated what can be accomplished with imaginative advocacy.
Enjoy the following chronology of my favorite moments from our eighteenth year.
Eyman abandons Referendum 80
April 12th, 2019
Often his own worst enemy, Eyman made an incorrect assumption when proceeding with plans for a signature drive in support of a measure aimed at nullifying the 2020 salary schedule approved by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials in early 2019. As a consequence, all of the work he put into Referendum 80 was for naught, and he abandoned the measure in disgust rather than start over.
Eyman’s I-1648 crashes and burns
July 5th, 2019
With representatives of the Northwest Progressive Institute watching (and photographing!), Tim Eyman was forced to admit that his frantic efforts to qualify a measure to the November 2019 ballot with the muscle of a reactionary, pro-secession group called “Liberty State” had ended in failure.
Lynnwood Link groundbreaking
September 3rd, 2019
Just after Labor Day, Sound Transit broke ground on Lynnwood Link, an extension of the agency’s regional light rail network, which will bring light rail close to Eyman’s old stomping grounds of Mukilteo (he is now a resident of Bellevue in the heart of King County). Preventing Eyman from interfering with Sound Transit’s efforts to build Link was the objective of the first campaign that Permanent Defense undertook in 2002.
Every groundbreaking and every station opening gets our region closer to a future where people have the freedom to safely and reliably get around without a car.
Eyman ordered to report personal income as campaign contributions by Judge Dixon
September 13th, 2019
Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon granted Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s motion to impose additional sanctions on Eyman, who has consistently tried to evade accountability for his violations of Washington’s public disclosure law through a legal defense strategy dubbed by NPI as “stonewalling in the extreme”.
Never before has the destructive impact of a Tim Eyman initiative been visualized as elegantly and powerfully as it was with our NO on I-976 Impact Map, designed by the talented Oran Viyancy. We rolled out the map at press events in Auburn and Seattle, and it was seen by hundreds of thousands of people on the web or on the local news.
We developed two ads for Spanish language radio outlets urging a NO vote on Tim Eyman’s transit-destroying Initiative 976 and an APPROVED vote on Initiative 1000, the Washington Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act. Although not all voters speak English or use it as their first language, very few campaigns make any effort to create materials in languages other than English. We made the effort.
Just before Thanksgiving, King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson put Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-976 on ice with an injunction barring it from taking effect on December 5th — a decision that was subsequently upheld by the the State Supreme Court a few days later, and a decision that kept funding for transportation improvements flowing to over sixty cities throughout Washington.
Eyman fails to qualify I-1082
January 3rd, 2020
As 2020 began, the deadline to submit signatures for initiatives to the 2020 Legislature came and went without an appearance by Eyman at the Secretary of State’s office. The death of Initiative 1082 went entirely unmentioned by Eyman, who had ceased using the doomed measure as a fundraising gimmick several weeks prior.
The last few years have been littered with setbacks and defeats for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman. From 2016-2018, Eyman failed to qualify anything to Washington’s general election ballot despite half a dozen attempts.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has been working tirelessly to hold Eyman accountable for his willful and blatant violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, dealing Eyman loss after loss in court.
Eyman is counting on an electoral victory in November to revive the fortunes of his flailing initiative factory. He has declared that his Initiative 976, a measure that would gut $4.2 billion in transportation funding over the next six years, will pass overwhelmingly in all thirty-nine of Washington’s counties and even pass in Seattle, which has consistently rejected his destructive schemes for twenty years.
If we look at what Eyman has said in response to questions about I-976’s fiscal impacts, though, we can see Eyman’s not confident about winning in November. Why else would Eyman feel the need to lie about the extent of the damage that his measure would cause?
The whoppers Eyman has been telling about I-976 deserve to be called out and debunked.
Let’s start with a claim he made a month ago on KIRO Newsradio: that I-976 would only rob Sound Transit of “a small percentage of money”.
THE REALITY: Wrong. Implementation of Tim Eyman’s I-976 would leave in ruins plans to deliver light rail expansion to Everett, Tacoma, Ballard, West Seattle, and Kirkland/Issaquah, as well as deploy bus rapid transit on Interstate 405 and expand Sounder commuter rail to DuPont and Tillicum. That’s because Sound Transit would lose an essential major revenue source, which would in turn severely impair its ability to borrow money, jeopardizing an estimated $20 billion in funding overall.
This is not an accident; it’s by design.
Tim Eyman is well aware that the loss of Sound Transit’s motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) revenue would blow a giant hole in Sound Transit 3. He’s counting on it: his goal is to sabotage Sound Transit 3’s voter approved projects so they don’t get built.
He’s previously admitted his true intentions to friendly audiences.
In 2016, when Eyman was trying to qualify a measure almost identical to I-976, he pitched it as the “NO on ST3” campaign in an address to the Eastside Republican Club in Bellevue, on March 1st, 2016. Said Eyman in his remarks:
I love the idea of every voter in the state being able to register their vehicle for a flat-rate, easy to understand $30, but what gets me giddy is the idea of ripping the heart out of Sound Transit. This agency is so unaccountable, so rogue, so completely devoid of any reality that this is our one chance to be able to gut them like a pig, and that’s what I really love about this initiative.
Emphasis is ours. Listen to the audio here.
The next time Eyman tries to dismiss the impact of I-976 as giving Sound Transit “a haircut”, just remember that we have Tim Eyman on tape saying that the primary objective of doing a new initiative to cap vehicle fees at thirty dollars is to rip the heart out of Sound Transit and gut the agency like a pig.
That’s a far cry from “a haircut”. Eyman’s August 16th statement is compelling evidence that he’s worried that if voters know the truth about the damage I-976 would cause, they’ll decide to fill in the oval next to NO on the ballot.
Despite the confidence he projects, Eyman is clearly nervous about losing this campaign. That’s why he is lying to the public about the destruction I-976 would cause when he does interviews with the press.
Dixon ruled that contributions Eyman has previously received as personal ‘gifts’ qualify as campaign contributions and affirmed that Eyman remains in contempt because he has failed to comply with the Court’s discovery orders.
Dixon also awarded the state attorney’s fees.
Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve called the ruling a significant development in the case that brings Eyman closer to his day of reckoning.
“The barricades that Tim Eyman has thrown up to shield himself from accountability are crumbling,” said Villeneuve.
“For years, Tim has tried to pretend that the fundraising he does for himself is separate from the fundraising he does for his initiative committees. But that is a fiction. The truth is that money given to benefit Tim Eyman benefits his initiative factory, and money given to whichever scam Eyman happens to be hawking at the moment benefits Eyman.”
“Just look at how I-976, Eyman’s latest initiative, got onto the ballot. The lion’s share of the money that paid for signature gathering came from Eyman himself; Eyman claimed he cashed out his and his wife’s retirement fund in order to make the signature drive a reality. The PDC reports for I-976 make it look like Eyman is his own biggest donor. Except he’s really not, because he doesn’t have a way of supporting himself without the continuing generosity of wealthy supporters like Kemper Freeman, Jr., who stated in a deposition that he wanted to make sure Eyman had enough ‘grocery money.'”
“There is simply no separation between Eyman’s personal and political funds anymore because he has mixed them so thoroughly.”
“It is entirely appropriate that Judge Dixon has found that the ‘gifts’ Eyman has been soliciting are really campaign contributions and are subject to public disclosure. If Eyman won’t comply and file the requisite reports, he’ll find himself in even more trouble.”
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.