Tag Archives: No on I-960

Oh No, I Upset Senator Pam Roach!

Yesterday I was in Olympia, testifying on SB 6665 before the Senate Committee on Government Operations & Elections. SB 6665 is an act relating to initiative filing fees and proposes to increase the fee from $5 to $250.

Times are tough in Olympia and our state is facing an additional $2.6 billion revenue shortfall in the current budget. This is not the only fee that the Legislature should increase but it has been at $5 for the last 99 years. What else do you know that still costs the same after a century? Certainly the costs of running government has not stayed the same for the last century.

Tim Eyman of course showed up to oppose the proposed fee increase that would more accurately reflect the increased cost of running government over the last 99 years. This of course is despite his yearly initiative push to cut taxes and revenue to fund government and his zest for reduced government spending.

Eyman argued that legislators don’t have to pay $5 to file their bills so why should he.  The Committee Chair responded that they have to run for office, whereas initiative sponsors don’t.

But the fee itself is not the real issue as to why this bill should be passed.  I’ve filed and run and won a number of initiative campaigns in the past and I’m a strong defender of the initiative process.  I’m from back in the old days before paid signature gatherers,  where we used volunteers to collect all the signatures.  These days most campaigns raise $500,000 to $600,000 to pay for the signatures collected by contracted workers who get paid by the signature. This is what Eyman does.  So in terms of the overall cost of a campaign to just get on the ballot,  $250 is a reasonable fee.

But the real problem is that some initiative filers abuse the system.  They file multiple initiatives to game the system to try to get a good ballot title.  They also game it to try to get a good ballot number. Bill Sizemore did this in Oregon and 2 years ago the Oregon State Legislature made changes to their initiative law to stop this practice, by requiring that initiative sponsors show public support for their proposal before committing state resources and revenue to process an initiative.  Oregon now requires that when an initiative is first filed that it include signatures of 1000 sponsors who are registered voters in the state.

What upset Senator Pam Roach was that I noted that Tim Eyman also did ballot title shopping.  Ballot title shopping is where you file multiple versions of an initiative with minor word changes to try to get the most favorable wording of the ballot title and summary.  This all runs up the state expenses to process and defend ballot titles if they are challenged by either the sponsor or someone else.

Last year Tim Eyman filed 24 initiatives, basically multiple versions on 3 different topics.  Some were filed as initiatives to the people and some as initiatives to the legislature.  He only collected signatures on one of these.

This year Eyman  has already filed 5 versions of the same initiative, including 4 he filed on the first filing day for initiatives to the people. Obviously this calls into question Tim’s explanation that he filed multiple versions to get feedback and make changes.

The reality is that you don’t need to file multiple initiatives to get feedback.  You can send anyone who want copies of the measures and ask for feedback on your draft before you file. This is the way most initiative sponsors do it.  Copies can be sent to all the Legislators and the Governor and interested parties as well as lawyers. You can revise your drafts and ask for further comments.

Well in Senator Roach’s opinion I had impuned the motives of Tim Eyman by noting that he ballot title shopped his initiatives. She started ranting that I should cease testifying and be removed from the hearing.  Senator Darlene Fairley, the Chair of the Committee basically ignored her and allowed the Hearing to continue.

Pam Roach is an ardent Eyman supporter and is a sponsor of his current measure to try to reimpose, if repealed,  the I-960 provisions that currently allow 1/3 of the Legislators to prevent 2/3 of the Legislators  from raising revenue or repealing  any under-performing tax exemptions.  It is a backdoor governing approach that gives the conservative Republicans minority control over the state budget even though voters clearly elected a majority of Democrats.

What they can’t win at the ballot box by electing a majority of conservatives and other Republicans to run the Legislature, they are doing by changing the operating rules of the Legislature to give a minority veto power over the budget.

Initiative 960 and Eyman’s current initiative are unconstitutional.  The Washington State Constitution says that the Legislature shall act by majority rule.  The Legislature by simple majority vote can repeal I-960. They need to do that and move on to raise revenue to keep essential services. Cutting $2.6 billion means huge job losses which will make the recession even worse. It’s time to eliminate the unconstitutional abuse of power by conservatives. Democrats need to step up and act.

Vote for the Environment – November 2007 Endorsements by Washington Environmental Organizations

A number of Washington State environmental organizations have endorsements posted for this November’s General Election.

Washington Conservation Voters have an extensive list of endorsements of environmental candidates including local endorsements for Clark, King, Kitsap, Pierce,Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom Counties.

They also recommend a Yes vote on Proposition 1 – the Roads and Transit Package to be voted on by King, Pierce and Snohomish County voters. They urge a No vote on Tim Eyman’s Initiative 960 to give a minority of one third of the Washington State Legislators veto power over any revenue or fee increase in the state budget.

The Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club urges a No vote on Initiative 960.

Endorsements for County candidates for King, Pierce and Snohomish County are listed as well as urging a No vote on Proposition 1 – The Roads and Transit Package.

A list of endorsed City Council candidates is included for the cities of Bellevue, Bellingham, Burien, Camas, Edmonds, Everett, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Mill Creek, Seattle, Tacoma, University Place, and Vancouver.

Futurewise urges a No vote on Initiative 960 and a Yes vote on Proposition 1 for Roads and Transit.

The Washington Environmental Council urges a No vote on Initiative 960 and a Yes vote on Proposition 1 for Roads and Transit.

Transportation Choices Coalition urges a Yes vote on Proposition 1 for Roads and Transit.

The Cascade Bicycle Club has a list of endorsed candidates for King and Snohomish Counties, port of Seattle, and a lengthy list of endorsed local candidates for Mayor and City Council. They urge a No vote on Proposition 1.

The environmental community has overwhelming come out against Initiative 960, realizing that it poses a real threat to many environmental programs including park and wild land preservation programs and environmental protection programs and global warming action. A visit to the No on I-960 shows a long list of environmental groups opposing I-960, including American Rivers, Audubon Washington, Climate Solutions, Conservation Northwest, Earth Ministry, Environment Washington, FutureWise Green Party of Washington, People for Puget Sound, Sierra Club – Cascade Chapter, Transportation Choices Washington, Vancouver Washington, Washington Conservation Voters, Washington Environmental Council and WashPIRG.

The Yes on Proposition 1 – Roads and Transit proposal includes the following environmental groups supporting it – Washington Conservation Voters, Transportation Choices Coalition, Washington Environmental Council, Futurewise, Tahoma Audubon Society, Environment Washington, Bicycle Alliance of Washington, and the Cascade Land Conservancy. These groups believe that the transit component of the package is a significant boost for moving toward a better transportation system that puts greater emphasis on transit solution and reducing dependency on cars.

As mentioned above the Sierra Club – Cascade Chapter and the Cascade Bicycle Club oppose Proposition 1 – believing it still moves in the wrong direction by supporting a roads package. They would rather see a transit only package. The question is whether a defeat of Proposition 1 would allow a transit only package to emerge or whether nothing would happen for many years to come.

Initiative 960 Would Turn Control of the Legislature Over to a Conservative Republican Minority

Initiative 960 is really quite simple. It is a right wing Trojan Horse designed to overturn majority rule in the Washington State Legislature. The main beneficiary would be the Republican Party.

Forget that Initiative 960 is unconstitutional because it overturns the majority vote decision making process set up by the Washington State Constitution. If passed and not challenged in Court, as Initiative 601 was never challenged in a timely manner, it would give a one third minority of Legislators powerful control over the state budget and the ability to raise revenue or increase fees to keep pace with increased costs.

Disguised as a way to increase accountability of the Legislature, Initiative 960 is really a Trojan Horse whose purpose is to hand over control of one of the Legislature’s major powers – the ability to raise revenue -to one third of the Legislators. Of course those Legislators who would gain power under this scheme would be the minority Republicans who ideologically oppose any tax and fee increases no matter what the issue or need.

Forget that Democrats have a solid majority of Legislators in both the House and Senate. This bill would put the conservative anti-tax Republicans in charge of the Legislature when it comes to major budget matters.

Requiring a supermajority of two thirds of the Legislators to pass tax increases would mean that 33 Representatives out of 98 total and 16 Senators out of 49 total would be running the show. Forget Speaker Frank Chopp of the House – he would be toast if Initiative 960 passes. Forget Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown – she no longer would matter. Chopp would need 66 Representatives to pass any revenue increasing bill. Brown would need 33 Senators to do so.

Requiring a two votes to pass legislation to increase revenue is a difficult hurdle to pass. Realize that a two thirds vote of Congress is required to over ride a Presidential veto. It does not happen that often.

Initiative 960 would drastically change the Legislative process as set up by the Washington State Constitution by overturning majority rules for voting. The democratic idea of Legislative majorities making decisions no longer would be the case.

Initiative 960 in this sense is a radical idea. It would overturn the whole concept of representative democracy by majority rule and would give the power of raising revenue or not raising revenue in the state of Washington to what one could call a super powerful Minority Rules .

If Initiative 960 were to pass the new law of the land would be Minority Rules.

This idea of a super powerful Minority Rules is of course what the right wing anti government anti tax ideologues hope voters will create by passing Initiative 960. Running as Republicans with this agenda and ideology has seen them lose their majority status in Washington State. Rejected by voters in the majority of legislative districts across the state, Republicans are salivating, hoping voters pass Initiative 960.

Running as Republicans they could not outright win a majority of Legislative seats espousing these ideas. So now they are resorting to this backdoor ruse, this Trojan Horse, to try to regain the control they once had in the Legislature.

This effort is wholeheartedly endorsed by the Washington State Republican Party. They are letting their wunderkind do the front work.

Initiative 960 is the cute baby of Tim Eyman and his money man Michael Dunmire. Dunmire and his wife contributed some $500,000 to buy their way onto the ballot by paying signature gatherers, many from out of state, to collect the necessary signatures.

Dunmire lives in Woodinville, Washington and epitomizes the anti democratic master plan of those who would like to revive the rejected ideas of the anti-government anti-tax old guard Republicans who have lost favor with citizens that want to see government work to benefit the people of this state.

Initiative 960 is a throwback to the rejected ideals of the Grover Norquists of the world that want to drown government in a bath tub by rejecting all taxes.

The best thing that Washington voters can do is drown Initiative 960 and flush it down the toilet. Vote No on Initiative 960. Let’s move Washington forward and work for a better state.

see also:

Initiative 960: No Straightjackets – Seattle PI Oct 10, 2007

Potential Financial Impacts of I-960 – Office of Financial Management State of Washington

I-960 won’t fix real problems – The Olympian Aug 23, 2007

No I-960! website

Initiative 960: Inefficient and ambiguous – Washington State Budget and Policy Center

Initiative 960 -Vote No – Sierra Club

Organizations Opposing Initiative 960

The League of Women Voters of Washington Opposes Initiative 960

Reasons to Oppose Initiative 960 – Permanent Defense

Vote No I-960 – Futurewise