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EYMAN: There’s irony in initiative argument

Letter by Donald A. Bremner, Gig Harbor on May 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm with 49 Comments »
May 18, 2011 2:41 pm

Re: “New initiative reinforces voter-approved I-1053″ (Viewpoint, 5-13).

It’s ironic that Tim Eyman calls on the state constitution to help enforce an initiative-generated law. Ironic because Eyman produced the initiatives (601,1053) requiring a two-thirds majority for legislative actions raising taxes despite the fact that it conflicts with the state constitution. (The constitution mandates a simple majority for all legislative actions.)

Now he insists the Legislature must follow the constitution to meet requirements which may be “unconstitutional.” Eyman’s duplicity regarding the constitution reflects a confusion about, or a desire to undermine, its role in proper lawmaking. That role can only be altered by amendments to the constitution, not by the initiative process.

Other constitutional issues are raised by the two-thirds majority rule. The rule evidently applies to legislated law but not initiative-generated law.

In 2010, Initiative 1098 proposed to impose an income tax on some citizens without a two-thirds majority requirement for its passage. This is an arbitrary distinction, applying to some lawmakers and not others.

If we are to be governed fairly by the rule of law, as intended under constitutional democracy, then the rule of law must be applied uniformly and equally. Following the constitution instead of initiatives 601 and 1053 would have avoided any arbitrary applications, avoided constitutional conflict and adhered more to protecting the guarantees of due process in our governance.

Perhaps our initiative process needs refining to be more constitutionally correct.

 

Leave a comment Comments → 49
  1. GHTaxPayer says:

    Thank God for Tim Eyman.

    Many of the liberals just don;t understand our state constitution and our initiative process. The initiative process allows for a 2/3 requirement to overturn FOR ONLY 2 YEARS. After that they require only a simple majority.

    Perhaps Mr. Brenner should spend his time focusing on why Gregoire and the liberal spendahoiic Democrats in Olympia have jacked up spending by 32% while revenues have decreased DURING A RECESSION.

    Perhaps Mr. Brenner should find out why the liberal Democrats refuse to address the bloated pensions and six-figure salaried state employees that are bankrupting our state.

    Perhaps Mr. Brenner should ask why Democrats say they support education while they’re campaigning, but when elected the first area they want to cut is education spending 9instead of bloated pensions and six-figure salaries).

    Perhaps Mr. Brenner should educate himself on the FACTS before writing such an asinine letter.

  2. KARDNOS says:

    Somone needs to explain the logic of 51% of a 35% voter turnout passing an initiative to require a 65% mandate for the legislature.

    It’s rather fuzzy math.

    How about this – pass legislation that requires 65% of 100% of registered voters to pass any initiative.

  3. alindasue says:

    KARDNOS said,”Somone needs to explain the logic of 51% of a 35% voter turnout passing an initiative to require a 65% mandate for the legislature.”

    I just did the math for 51% of 35% of the voters. That means that only about 18% of the state’s registered voters voted for Inititive-1053. That’s hardly a mandate of the people.

    I’d even settle for legislation requiring only 50.1% of the state’s registered voters.

  4. Maybe an initiative to require a 2/3 majority to pass an initiative is in order. It would only need a simple majority to pass.

  5. Rollo_Tomassi says:

    @GHTaxpayer – Attaboy, if you can’t refute an argument, change the subject and attack the letter writer.

    @alindasue – For the record, the turnout in November 2010 was 2,565,589 voters which represents 71.24% of all 3,601,268 registered voters.

    Only 2,471,488 voters (68.62% of all registered voters) actually voted ‘YES” or ‘NO’ on Initiative 1053.

    In fact, 1,575,655 (63.75% of all votes cast on I1053) of those voters voted ‘YES’, and 895,833 (36.25% of all votes cast on I1053) voted ‘NO’,

    That means the total voters who approved the initiative were 1.575,655, or 43.75% of all 3,601,268 registered voters.

    Source: http://vote.wa.gov/Elections/WEI/Results.aspx?RaceTypeCode=M&JurisdictionTypeID=-2&ElectionID=37&ViewMode=Results

    Google is your friend

  6. alindasue says:

    Rollo_Tomassi,

    Thanks for the source info. Great site! I’ve bookmarked it for future reference.

    There must have been a lot of passion regarding the 2010 general election issues because the turnout was quite high for a non-presidential election year. 2008 voter turnout was amazingly high, with most counties showing over 80% turnout.

    What I found disturbing was that through all the general elections I looked through, Pierce county was consistantly in the bottom three counties for voter turnout. By contrast, King county’s voter turnout was consistantly at or near the state average. The dollars tend to go where the votes are people. If you aren’t regularly voting, then get out there and do so, please, people!

  7. Fibonacci says:

    GHTaxPayer
    “the bloated pensions and six-figured salaried state employees that are bankrupting our state”–what in God’s name are y ou talking about? Is $25000 per year a bloated pension? Teachers make up the majority of salaried state employees and NONE of them make six fugures. Do you just pull this stuff from where the sun doesn’t shine?

  8. GHTP,
    The Washington State Constitution:

    Does not require supermajorities for anything;

    Allows the legislature after 2 years, and with a simple majority, to abrogate

    laws created by the Initiative Process.

    IMO: Eyman’s 2/3 majority Initiative should have never been on the ballot because it was not in accordance with the State Constitution.

  9. truthbusterguy says:

    Democrats, liberals and so called progressives hate him, which means he must be a hero doing something good for people and harmful to the union entitled clingers. In liberal and political circles in and around the state he is disliked probably more than anyone.

    Mr. Eyman’s sin is that he has dared to try and stop the ravages of out-of-control government. His approach might be a possible model for other states, or even one to control the Federal government. Put Uncle Sam on an Allowance was an approach proposed here, although I am sure Tim could improve on this.

    Hopefully many other Eyman clones will spring up around the state so the people outside of King County have a say in state governing. Eyman’s goal is to return control to citizens. From this perspective, it is easy to see why the political class hates him and considers him “dangerous.”

    Thank you Tim Eyman for all you do. I-1125 will place a spotlight on the legislature and how they waste our money.

    Until fairness returns in state policy I will do everything possible to avoid sending the state a penny.

    Remember, if you send money to Olympia they will waste it.

  10. KARDNOS says:

    I will submit that Inititiative 601 was “passed” by substantially less than 50% of the voters in Washington State. Eyman is a master at initiatives on off year elections.

    If anyone wants to talk about bloated salaries how about the $3K a week Eyman was paying himself for “managing” the campaign?

    Eyman’s initiatives takes law making from the hands of the majority of elected officials and puts them in the hands of the minority.

  11. KARDNOS says:

    “Thank you Tim Eyman for all you do.”

    No need to thank Tim. He got paid handsomely.

  12. sincere says:

    I think if the Lawmakers had their way,the Citizens would lose the right to have the right to have any kind of inititive process.The Lawmakers would also love to be able to pass any introduced bill to them with a simple Majority vote.If that were to happen,you can bet you would get the kind of treatment from your Represententives you deserve!

  13. Publico says:

    We signed on to a represenative democracy, which is also called a democratic republic. The reasons for those choices are quite simple. Absolute democracy is very messy and unworkable. Eyman’s or Iman’s, efforts undermine the legitimate process and make a mockery of democratic republicanism. Too much democracy is nearly as bad as not enough.

  14. alindasue says:

    sincere said, “The Lawmakers would also love to be able to pass any introduced bill to them with a simple Majority vote.”

    According to the state constitution, that is how it is supposed to work. Tim Eyman’s I-1053 would probably not stand if challenged in court.

    Publico said, ” Absolute democracy is very messy and unworkable.”

    Very true. Absolute democracy, the voting on every issue by every member, is only workable with very small groups… maybe not even then. If nothing can ever be done without gathering every single member for a vote, then very little gets done. That’s why we elect representatives to vote for us on most issues.

    truthbusterguy said, “From this perspective, it is easy to see why the political class hates him and considers him “dangerous.” ”

    Actually, the main problem that many of us have with him is that he seems to be using the initiative process as a way to make a living. He’s constantly having to find new “problems” to fix or he’s out of a job.

    I’ve already expressed in detail my concerns with the content of I-1125 in another comment thread. Yes, I read it – all of it. It provides funding for only construction costs on projects (like the WA-512 bridge) without allowing for maintainance costs and future repair or upgrades. I will be voting “no” when/if it appears on the ballot.

  15. Rollo_Tomassi says:

    @truthbusterguy

    “Democrats, liberals and so called progressives hate him, which means he must be a hero doing something good for people and harmful to the union entitled clingers.”

    That’s a pretty broad statement – lets see if it stands up to scrutiny…

    If the “him” in your sentence were Osama bin Laden… Yep – the first part holds true – Democrats, Liberals, and progressives hate him. Does that mean Osama did something good regular people?

    Nope, it’s just hyperbole – of the sort I suspect Eyman would be proud to use himself – but it let’s you cast those who disagree with you as enemies and bad guys without having to actually warm up any of your brain cells and think it through.

    Here is a thought – maybe there are lots of conservatives who believe in constitutional government who oppose him because he is exploiting representative government process in ways that are bad for governance. Any good he might do by lowering taxes is overshadowed by the half-baked laws that are bold enough to cut revenues but too chicken to say where to cut spending (that’s what real leaders do).

    Eyman’s genius is that he knows that if he sells candy (lower taxes), unthinking people will buy it. Ever notice that he doesn’t sell the medicine? He never puts initiatives in place that would cut $1B out of roads, or prisons, or schools, or even something as easily denigrated as social services. And he certainly doesn’t offer initiatives that describe what expenditures his tax cuts woudl affect.

    Nope. He’s smart enough to know that if he sold medicine no one would buy. So he just keeps selling candy and a majority of voters keep buying it.

  16. Tim if you are selling anything,I will take 10 cases of it.Washington Sate legislature,If you are selling anything,I don’t want it,even if it is free!

  17. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Kardnos says, “No need to thank Tim. He got paid handsomely”.

    He should be one of the highest paid people in this state. I would like to see him get a percentage of what he saves for all of us.

    It’s only fair when you think about the unions that get a percentage of state worker (taxpayer funded) salaries in the form of forced dues payments.

    And yes they are forced. If state workers could opt out how many do you think would do so? My guess 90%.

    Wake up people, the SEIU uses your tax dollars from forced union dues to fund political campaigns that benifit them not you the taxpayers.

    They just invested $500,000 to change sales tax rules.

    http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/may/14/seiu-aims-for-repeal-of-sales-tax-break/

    And don’t forget the $1.5 million they spent on trying to get you to approve an income tax. This is your money they are using against you!!!

  18. harleyrider1 says:

    Us – “we” are the constitution. Once it is written, “we” make necessary changes to keep it fluid and applicable. Any initiatives signed and voted into law by the governed majority adds to the law.

    People like you just don’t get it. There is no supreme government. We rule ourselves in America and if we want changes, we have the right to make them.

  19. I like your candy/medicine analogy, Rollo_Tomassi.

    That’s exactly what he’s selling, candy.

  20. ItalianSpring says:

    Right on sincere!

  21. fatuous says:

    xring, please read the constitution. It clearly states a 2/3 majority is necessary to amend or repeal within 2 years.

    (c) No act, law, or bill subject to referendum shall take effect until ninety days after the adjournment of the session at which it was enacted. No act, law, or bill approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon shall be amended or repealed by the legislature within a period of two years following such enactment: Provided, That any such act, law, or bill may be amended within two years after such enactment at any regular or special session of the legislature by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house with full compliance with section 12, Article III, of the Washington Constitution, and no amendatory law adopted in accordance with this provision shall be subject to referendum. But such enactment may be amended or repealed at any general regular or special election by direct vote of the people thereon.

  22. fatuous says:

    harley, the legislature is the only one who can only propose constitutional amendments to the state constitution. The citizens are asked to approve these proposed changes.

  23. fatuous says:

    I see several flaws in the I-1125 initiative which I don’t agree with. I will be voting no if this initiative makes it on the ballot.

  24. KARDNOS says:

    One can only laugh after reading “taxedenough’s” rant about union contributions to political campaigns and then watch the ongoing ownership of the state of Wisconsin by the Koch brothers.

    As the spouse of a government employee, I sure wish we’d see all of this money that the anti-union people claim we make.

    As to Tim Eyman being paid a percentage……..DUH!!!!!!!! If you think Tim’s campaigns are financed by taxpayers…get a clue. There is big money to be made by businesses enjoying tax protection by Eyman’s laws. Just think, they no longer have to grease the palms of the majority of legislators – just the GOP minority and…..viola! Tax avoided!!!

  25. nwcolorist says:

    The reason that the majority of Tim Eyman’s initiatives continue to succeed is because there are enough people who sympathize with them to pass them. Basically simple.

    Equally simple: if the Legislature wants to defeat Eyman and his initiatives, start addressing the issues that make him so successful – out of control taxes and spending. That will erode his support base.

    Gregoire & Co. knows this. The question is, why won’t they do it?

  26. KARDNOS says:

    If an initiative has Tim Eyman’s support, you can bet I vote no. Regardless, Tim get’s paid. He is what is known in politics as a “gadlfy”.

  27. nwcolorist says:

    KARDNOS, do you have a reference for that $3K a week figure?

  28. scott0962 says:

    Whether this particular initiative is worth enacting or not Eyeman does serve a useful purpose as a counterweight to a state government that is all too prone to reach for the taxpayer’s wallets in order to keep passing out the goodies instead of standing up to interest groups and saying “No.” At least with Eyeman’s iniatives we get a vote on the matter.

  29. KARDNOS says:

    “nwcolorist says:
    May 19, 2011 at 8:27 am
    The reason that the majority of Tim Eyman’s initiatives continue to succeed is because there are enough people who sympathize with them to pass them. Basically simple.”

    Of course. Tim plays to the least educated and the lowest common denomimator. Use the boogeyman “tax” word and people knee jerk react.

    People love services and hate paying for them. Thus we have a TEA Party.

  30. KARDNOS says:

    scott – I have to disagree with your “at least”.

    We elect representatives to take care of our business. Obviously not everyone will agree with their actions. I can tell you about tax breaks negotitated for my legislator’s employer that don’t make me real happy. Regardless, putting everthing up to a vote of the people (driven by business campaign money and misinfomation) is costly and will never accomplish a thing in terms of funding for government services.

    As I said previously, people want services, but don’t want to pay for them.

  31. KARDNOS says:

    NWcolorist – do you have google????

    Tim’s salary was all over the media a few years ago.

    I suppose I can do it for you, but your search might teach you a few things about Tim, other than his “Robin Hood” mask.

  32. KARDNOS says:

    Try starting here….

    “Also in that same month, Eyman announced he would take a $3,100 per week salary to pay himself for his …”

    That took me less than 30 seconds

  33. KARDNOS says:

    It’s amazing how much information is available and how people purposefully stay ignorant to avoid the truth they don’t want to see.

  34. KARDNOS says:

    TYPO ALLERT!!!

    “get’s” should be “gets”

  35. KGE1911 says:

    Fact- The Washington State Supreme Court refused to throw out I-601 in 2007.
    Fact- The Washington State Supreme Court refused to throw out I-601 in 2009 under a challenge by Lisa Brown.

    So all you “law experts” in here saying it is unconstitutional don’t have a leg to stand on until the court says so, and guess what two times they have let it stand. You’re just blowing smoke. Don’t like Eyman? Don’t vote for his initiatives, very simple.

  36. KARDNOS says:

    Tim’s a real standup guy….

    “OLYMPIA – Attorney General Christine Gregoire is hauling tax rebel Tim Eyman to court, asserting that he broke campaign laws by secretly dipping into campaign funds to pay himself a salary and expenses.
    The state’s top lawyer filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the Public Disclosure Commission found Eyman in apparent violation of disclosure laws.

    It could take a long time for Eyman’s case to come to trial, presuming it isn’t settled out of court. Judge Thomas McPhee set a pretrial status conference for July 12. A trial date could be set then.

    Gregoire, in a complaint filed with the court, said Eyman, as well as his former business partner and treasurer, Suzanne Karr, and the Permanent Offense campaign broke at least six election laws.

    The attorney general’s rush to the courthouse had been requested by the disclosure panel. The commission concluded that Eyman concealed the salary scheme, failed to report finances properly, and mingled campaign and personal work expenses.”

  37. KARDNOS says:

    I find it hypocritical for people to wail about a Democrat in dispute with the IRS over taxable income for an offshore property and then support Tim Eyman, who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

  38. KARDNOS says:

    Meanwhile the demonizing of state employees goes on across the country….

  39. Roncella says:

    Sincere, Well said, right on, Great Post…

  40. KARDNOS says:

    “sincere says:
    May 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm
    Tim if you are selling anything,I will take 10 cases of it.Washington Sate legislature,If you are selling anything,I don’t want it,even if it is free!

    “ItalianSpring says:
    May 19, 2011 at 7:43 am
    Right on sincere! ”

    “Roncella says:
    May 19, 2011 at 9:27 am
    Sincere, Well said, right on, Great Post…”

    There is no further explanation required concerning Eyman’s target audience. After getting caught in fraudulent action, the cheerleaders still support him because he doesn’t like “taxes”.

  41. “GHTaxPayer says:
    May 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm
    Thank God for Tim Eyman.”

    Isn’t there something in the Commandments about stealing……

  42. Rollo_Tomassi says:

    I typed….
    “Eyman’s genius is that he knows that if he sells candy (lower taxes), unthinking people will buy it”

    …and then sincere typed…
    “Tim if you are selling anything,I will take 10 cases of it.”

    As if to prove my point.

    Thank you sincere.

  43. Has anyone noticed how many sheep approve of anything the Legislature proposes?If It wasn’t for citizens like Eyman,the Voters would be much worse off than we are now!If you study all of Tims proposals,you will see very little to argue with.If you don’t like any of his inititives,then don’t vote for them.If you don’t like what your Representitives pass,see how much your objections mean to them.I think they would tell you they know what good for you so quit complaining,After all you elected them.Jan Angel is one of the few Reps.that will appreciate your imput to her,at least that has been my personal experience.

  44. KGE1911 says:

    Say what you will about Eyman, at least he can turn in his initiatives on time. Our Legislature could learn a lesson or two from him about FINISHING THEIR WORK ON TIME!!!!! Yes, I despise wasting money to continually go in special session year after year when there is ZERO excuse for it.

  45. commoncents says:

    KGE – on that note I would agree. These folks don’t bother compromising until after a deadline has passed. It’s horrible management and terribly inefficient and expensive.

  46. Based on a list of his supporters here I would have to say eyman is without question the worst thing to happen to the state of Washington.
    If the folks that support him here think he is good, then he has to be bad.

  47. Roncella says:

    xtp855, Your off a little on the worst thing to happen to the state of Washington, Its Gregoire and Jim Mc Dermott take your pick.

  48. One thing we can do is limit all political donations to individual registered voters.
    with strict limits on how much an individual can donate per election cycle.

  49. sincere says, “Tim if you are selling anything,I will take 10 cases of it.Washington Sate legislature,If you are selling anything,I don’t want it,even if it is free!”

    “Has anyone noticed how many sheep approve of anything the Legislature proposes?”

    Has sincere noticed how many sheep approve of anything that Eyman proposes?

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