Tag Archives: I-747

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

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

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doing a bill-specific search for HB 2255 now sees an error when putting in that number, due to the bill having been withdrawn.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.

Special session coverage

Legislation & Testimony

Permanent Defense’s parent organization, the Northwest Progressive Institute, has coverage of today’s special session at the Official Blog.

Please view the following posts for more information:

(Last Updated December 3rd, 2007)

Statement on the invalidation of Initiative 747

In the CourtsStatements & Advisories

The Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense this morning applauded the State Supreme Court’s invalidation of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747, which placed draconian limits on property taxes in 2001. The Court upheld a lower court decision which found the initiative unconstitutional.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the people of the State of Washington,” said NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “Neither the Legislature nor initiative sponsors have the right to mislead voters with inaccurately drafted law. The Supreme Court has affirmed once again that Tim Eyman’s habit of cutting corners with poorly conceived language is not acceptable.”

“Our state’s Constitution is a meaningless document unless its protections are enforced,” Villeneuve added. “No statute may violate the Constitution for any reason. Those who sponsor initiatives for a living are bound to abide by the same rules that the Legislature must follow. Citizen lawmaking, like the privilege of serving in the Legislature, carries with it huge responsibility.”

PREVIOUS EYMAN INITIATIVES DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL:

  • I-695 (1999): Slashing vehicle fees
  • I-722 (2000): Slashing property taxes

EYMAN’S RECORD — FULL OF FAILURES

Besides the court invalidations of I-695 and I-722, Tim Eyman’s record is full of defeats:

  • I-745 (2000): Tried to redirect transportation funding to roads, defeated by voters
  • I-776 (2002): Failed to stop Sound Transit’s light rail project or eliminate bonds (the main intent)
  • I-267 (2002): Tried to redirect transportation funding to roads, never qualified for the ballot
  • I-807 (2003): Initiative 960’s more recent predecessor never qualified for the ballot
  • I-864 (2004): Tried to slash property taxes, never qualified for the ballot
  • I-892 (2004): Tried to expand gambling, defeated by voters
  • I-900 (2005): Gave the state auditor too much power to conduct performance audits. Approved.
  • I-917 (2006): Tried to slash vehicle fees, never qualified for the ballot
  • R-65 (2006): Tried to legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, never qualified for the ballot

For more information, check out the complete Failure Chart.

Statement on the Initiative 747 ruling by Judge Roberts

In the CourtsStatements & Advisories

Permanent Defense today applauded the decision of King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts, who ruled that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747 was unconstitutional.

“It’s a very simple concept: Washington State laws, including initiatives passed by voters, cannot violate the state Constitution,” said Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve. “We agree with the judge and believe her reasoning in this case is sound.”

“What’s more, Initiative 747 has already caused significant damage to communities throughout Washington State,” Villeneuve added. “Police and fire departments, libraries, parks, pools, and other public services have been badly hurt by I-747.”

“Not only are Tim Eyman’s initiatives bad for public services and bad for our communities, but they are poorly written and out of compliance with our state’s constitution.”

According to the Department of Revenue, the loss to the state property tax totals $226,923,000 for the 2005-2007 biennium while losses to local taxing districts total $571,496,000. That’s $571 million dollars – an enormous sum of money. The loss to local governments in 2006 alone is some $285 million dollars (PDF).

Incidentally, there are several conflicts of interest in this court case: Attorney General Rob McKenna, who has (so far) unsuccessfully defended I-747 for the state, was a coauthor of the initiative. The other initiative coauthor is Jim Johnson. Johnson currently sits on the state Supreme Court, which may hear this case on appeal.

Permanent Defense will be calling for Johnson to recuse himself from the case if the state Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal.

Whitman County, nonprofits sue to invalidate Initiative 747

In the Courts

Good news from the Puget Sound Business Journal:

Whitman County and a coalition of nonprofit groups are suing the state, arguing that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747, which capped state and local property tax increase at 1 percent per year, is unconstitutional.

At a hearing in King County Superior Court on Friday, June 2, the plaintiffs will argue that I-747 didn’t accurately describe the law it would amend and that the initiative’s ballot title didn’t accurately describe its subject. The group said similar arguments were used to invalidate Initiative 695, another Eyman initiative aimed at reducing car-tab taxes to $30.

The lawsuit is brought by Whitman County and several nonprofits, including Washington Citizen Action, the Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition, and Futurewise, the group formerly known as 1,000 Friends of Washington.

I-747 created a funding crisis for local and state governments, the group said.

“Initiative 747 has taken a dramatic toll on small county governments like those east of the mountains,” said Whitman County Commissioner Jerry Finch. “Under this initiative, our revenue simply cannot keep up with inflation and we are being forced to cut critical services.”

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