by David Ammons | April 24th, 2013
UPDATE: Note that last paragraph recasts the original language…
Initiative activist Tim Eyman has filed what he called the “Super Bowl” version of his long line of ballot propositions aimed at blocking taxes and requiring a supermajority to pass tax hikes in Olympia.
It will have to be a hurry-up offense for Eyman, since there is little more than two months before his July 5 deadline to submit well over 300,000 petition signatures to secure a place on the fall General Election ballot. It takes roughly three weeks for an initiative to be processed by the state Code Reviser and Attorney General, and for the likely court challenge of the AG’s ballot title. After that, Eyman and co-sponsors Mike and Jack Fagan can have petitions printed and start the collection process.
Eyman and the Fagans were surrounded by a media scrum at the Secretary of State’s Office in the Capitol on Wednesday. They described their strategy of trying to enlist the voters to help pressure the Legislature into initiating a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds supermajority in both houses to pass tax hikes in Olympia. Only the Legislature may originate a constitutional amendment, and it takes two-thirds voters in both houses and voter approval. An initiative requires only simple majority voter approval and can write or amend only statute law.
The State Supreme Court recently held that earlier voter-approved Eyman supermajority initiatives were unconstitutional, since only an amendment of the state constitution can add the new restriction. The constitution’s reference to passing bills — including tax bills — says only that a majority in each chamber will be required.
Eyman’s plan, quickly lambasted by his critics and some legislators, has three parts:
- A one-year life span for new taxes or extension of existing taxes.
- An annual statewide vote on an advisory measure on asking the Legislature to initiate the two-thirds supermajority constitutional amendment.
- Legislators and governors running for re-election would have all of their tax votes listed underneath their photos in the Voters’ Pamphlet.
Eyman includes an “escape” clause that says if lawmakers pass and refer the two-thirds-for-taxes constitutional amendment on the ballot, then the three provisions would expire.