Over the years, voters have repeatedly approved various taxpayer protection initiatives. Opponents have become increasingly frustrated that the voters have consistently OK’d these tougher-to-raise-taxes policies at the ballot box.
So they’ve come up with a new strategy: end democracy.
They’ve gone to court to prevent a public vote on Initiative 1366, which has now been certified. It’s really an extraordinary request — they want a judge to take away the people’s right to vote.
Our state Constitution guarantees the citizens the right to vote on initiatives that submit enough signatures. The voters’ right to vote shouldn’t be taken away just because opponents don’t like it.
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We’re very proud of I-1366. We worked hard to draft it carefully, in full compliance with, and mindful of, our state’s laws, Constitution and recent court rulings.
For opponents to claim that I-1366 is not a legitimate initiative for voters to consider is insulting. Voters are perfectly capable of understanding I-1366’s policies and they do not need opponents’ condescending censorship.
Five times the voters have approved initiatives requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or majority vote of the people to raise taxes. Five times. In 2012, nearly two-thirds of voters approved it. It got more votes than any initiative in state history. I-1366 is called the Taxpayer Protection Act; this year’s tax-obsessed Legislature vividly illustrates why it’s necessary.
Opponents have mischaracterized many aspects of I-1366. Their legal brief is filled with inaccuracies. We’re looking forward to exposing their errors in court.
We are especially amused with their claim that the plaintiffs’ are hurt by the vote on I-1366. That’s silly — no one is harmed by a public vote on an initiative.
The state Supreme Court has twice ruled unanimously that lawsuits to keep initiatives off the ballot aren’t valid because, among other reasons, they undermine the First Amendment. “Because ballot measures are often used to express popular will and to send a message to elected representatives, preelection review unduly infringes on free speech values.”
So ultimately the opponents’ lawsuit has less to do with I-1366 than it does the right of the people to discuss, debate, and vote on the issues contained in it. Opponents want to prevent that.
I-1366 has qualified for the ballot. In Washington’s 100 year initiative history, the courts have never — not once — prevented the people from voting on a statewide initiative that was certified by the Secretary of State. That’s because the courts rule on approved laws; they don’t prevent discussion or debate on proposed laws. The voters are constitutionally guaranteed the right to discuss, debate and vote on I-1366. That right should not be taken away by anyone, especially opponents who clearly don’t trust the voters.
Tim Eyman is co-sponsor of Initiative 1366, which proposes to cut the state sales tax by more than $1 billion a year unless the Legislature puts a constitutional amendment on the ballot that requires two-thirds supermajority votes to increase taxes.