Tag Archives: I-1125

I-1125 appears to contain an anti-East Link clause

Rethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

It turns out that Initiative 1125, the toll-restricting measure that Tim Eyman says he intends to qualify for the ballot this year, wouldn’t just restrict the Legislature’s ability to raise revenue for transportation projects using tolls.

A review of the measure’s text indicates it also seeks to shut down Sound Transit’s voter-approved East Link project in a dubious, iffy fashion.

(East Link is Sound Transit’s endeavor to bring light rail to Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Redmond via Interstate 90).

It’s no secret that Tim Eyman and his backers, Michael Dunmire and Kemper Freeman, Jr., despise Sound Transit.

Dunmire and Freeman actually took Sound Transit to court last year to seek a ruling preventing the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge from being used for East Link, even though the bridge was mostly built using federal dollars and the stipulation that part of the bridge deck be turned over to rail transit as soon as possible.

The Supreme Court just last week dismissed that lawsuit, but Dunmire, Freeman, and Eyman are undeterred.

The pertinent section of I-1125 is as follows:

NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. State government, the department of transportation, and other agencies may not transfer or use gas-tax-funded or toll-funded lanes on state highways for non-highway purposes.

Translation: No portion of a state highway can be dedicated to high-capacity transit, period, even if the state is compensated for the portion of the highway that it turns over (the wording above spells out no exceptions).

This section is meant to mess with East Link, but what Eyman and the law firm he retains don’t take into account is that Interstate 90 is a federally designated highway. The section that runs from Seattle to just east of Spokane is owned and operated by Washington State, but it was built with federal money and belongs to the Interstate Highway System. Consequently, the state cannot simply do whatever it wants with I-90, even though it is responsible for the aforementioned portion of I-90.

Decades ago, when Tim Eyman was just a boy, the state, King County, and the cities of Mercer Island and Bellevue signed an agreement which explicitly stated that the bridge deck would be built so that the portion now known as the express lanes could be dedicated to rail transit:

The I-90 facility shall be designed and constructed so that conversion of all or part of the transit roadway to fixed guideway is possible.

An update to this 1976 agreement, signed in 2004 by the aforementioned parties and Sound Transit, laid out a specific plan for making this conversion, which is presently being carried out. Eyman and his wealthy backers desperately want to nix the plan before Sound Transit can get East Link off the ground.

If passed and enforced, I-1125 would also presumably prevent light rail from being added to the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, which is currently being designed to replace the existing SR-520 facility over Lake Washington.

When new is old: Eyman’s scheme to restrict tolls based off a recycled provision from failed I-985

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Yesterday, through the Associated Press, Tim Eyman announced that he intends to try to qualify an initiative for the 2011 November ballot, after initially planning to take a year off due to lack of access to a wealthy benefactor.

The scheme Eyman says he’s running with was filed back in January, and was assigned the number 1125 by the Secretary of State.

What Eyman neglected to mention in his announcement is that I-1125 is based on recycled provisions from Initiative 985, which voters overwhelmingly rejected more than two years ago.

The provisions in question sought to constrain the Legislature’s toll-setting authority in almost exactly the same ways: first, by trying to prevent the Legislature from delegating its toll-setting authority to the Transportation Commission, and second, to prevent toll money from being used for anything except projects concerning the facility where each dollar in toll revenue was originally collected.

In 2008, we argued that these and other provisions in Initiative 985 would lead to more traffic and less flexibility for planners working to alleviate our region’s traffic problems. Voters resoundingly agreed: 59% of those participating in the 2008 presidential election voted I-985 down.

“If Tim Eyman respected the will of the people, he wouldn’t be running Initiative 1125,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve.

“The people have already decided this question. They said no to Initiative 985 in a landslide only two and a half years ago. They made it plainly clear they weren’t interested in Tim Eyman’s plot to hamstring the Legislature and WSDOT.”

“But Tim has shown that he only cares about the outcome of elections when voters make the mistake of agreeing with him. I-985’s failure is immaterial to him; as far as he’s concerned, I-985’s defeat never happened. I-985 never happened.”

“When Tim first began running initiatives over a decade ago, his target was our common wealth. Since the mid-2000s, he’s moved on to a bigger, more ambitious target: Representative democracy. Quite simply, Tim Eyman wants to undo the plan of government our founders gave us, because he doesn’t like how it works.”

“That’s why he keeps proposing initiatives designed to paralyze the Legislature. His mantra is that there should be a public vote on any decision of importance. How many times have we heard him say, ‘Let the voters decide’? But in a representative democracy, the voters do get to decide. They choose who represents them in the Legislature every two and every four years. Eyman just doesn’t like most of the representatives the people have chosen. So he’s responded by trying to subvert our Constitution and cripple the institutions it created.”

“If voters continue to go along with Eyman, which would be a tragedy, it wouldn’t be long before our Legislature was reduced to little more than a ceremonial body, unable to govern as our founders intended it to.”

“We cannot allow this to happen. Washington simply cannot afford any more undemocratic, ill-conceived Tim Eyman initiatives. Our economy can’t afford it, our common wealth can’t afford it, and our quality of life can’t afford it.”

The Tacoma News Tribune’s Jordan Schrader has astutely noted that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that the people “cannot, by initiative, prevent future legislatures from exercising their law-making power.” This ruling was referenced in an opinion released by Rob McKenna’s office in December, which concluded the Legislature is free to re-delegate its toll setting authority as it wishes.

While that may be the case, there are other provisions in I-1125 that may not be so easily reversed.

It remains to be seen whether Tim Eyman has a wealthy benefactor lined up to fund I-1125. He needs one, especially with only ten weeks to collect signatures. If he doesn’t have one, there’s no way I-1125 can get on the ballot.

If petitions become available for I-1125, we will strongly urge the people of Washington State to think before they ink and decline to sign this latest Eyman plot.

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