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Tim Eyman initiative calls on Legislature to set tolls and fares

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on May 2, 2011 at 10:57 am |
May 2, 2011 11:24 am

Voters agreed with Tim Eyman last November that the Legislature should set fees. But in recent weeks lawmakers delegated the power to set tolls and ferry fares back to the Transportation Commission by approving the transportation budget and SB 5700 on bipartisan votes.

Now Eyman wants voters to repeat their message. He announced Sunday he is kicking off signature gathering for a new statewide initiative, I-1125.

There’s a legal problem, though. Even if Eyman collects the 241,153 valid signatures needed by July 8 to put it on the ballot and voters approve it, lawmakers can re-delegate their power once again just as they did this year.

That’s because no law can keep a future Legislature from exercising its basic authority, including delegating its own powers. A December informal opinion from Attorney General Rob McKenna‘s office says so (Below, see page 7):

… The people ‘cannot, by initiative, prevent future legislatures from exercising their law-making power.’ (quoting the Supreme Court). The legislature’s plenary authority includes the discretion to delegate fee-setting authority to administrative agencies.

Eyman told me today what he has before about this: He believes the fee restrictions are legally binding, but even if they’re not, they are “politically binding.” Another, clearer statement by voters would make them that much harder to ignore.

“If the Legislature wanted to just ignore the law and do whatever they wanted,” Eyman said, “then they could go ahead and take that to court if they wanted to.”

One other thing of interest to Tacoma Narrows bridge commuters: I-1125 also”requires that tolls on a project be spent on that project and not be diverted and spent on other things,” according to Eyman.

AG informal opinion 12-20-10

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