Eyman gets to work on new tax initiative

The Spokesman-Review

11/21/02

Olympia, WA_ Focusing on his longtime goal of requiring public votes on taxes, Tim Eyman said Wednesday he is changing his new initiative to allow state or local officials to raise taxes with simple majorities -- provided the tax increases then go to voters for approval.

That's one of two two major changes Eyman's making to Initiative 800, which would require a 75 percent supermajority for the Legislature, county councils or commissions and city councils to approve new taxes and fees.

Under the new language, elected officials would also have the option of passing taxes by a simple majority and referring them to the voters for approval. This is currently allowed, as in the case of the recent statewide transportation referendum that failed at the polls.

Eyman also removed a provision that sought to apply the supermajority requirement retroactively -- to all taxes and fees increased between Nov. 1 of this year until the initiative is passed. Instead, he now would require such increases to be reaffirmed by a supermajority of the Legislature or local government.

"These are two positive improvements" that reflect the campaign's willingness to listen to critics, he said in an interview.

Eyman has until July to gather about 200,000 valid voter signatures to secure I-800 a place on the November 2003 ballot.

 

Related Story:

Eyman amends latest initiative

By David Ammons
The Associated Press
The Seattle Times

OLYMPIA Tax rebel Tim Eyman said yesterday that he is changing his new initiative to allow state or local officials to raise taxes with simple majorities provided the tax increases then go to voters for approval.

That's one of two major changes Eyman's making to Initiative 800, which would require a 75 percent supermajority for the Legislature, county councils or commissions and city councils to approve new taxes and fees.

Under the new language, elected officials also would have the option of passing taxes by a simple majority and referring them to voters for approval. This is currently allowed, as in the case of the recent statewide transportation referendum that failed at the polls.

Eyman also removed a provision that sought to apply the supermajority requirement retroactively to all taxes and fees increased between Nov. 1 of this year until the initiative is passed.

Instead, he now would require such increases to be reaffirmed by a supermajority of the Legislature or local government.

"These are two positive improvements" that reflect the campaign's willingness to listen to critics, he said. He had attempted to make the supermajority provisions retroactive so they would apply to the upcoming legislative session and to county and city tax decisions in the next 12 months.

But Democrats and a former Supreme Court justice had attacked the initiative when it was filed with the secretary of state last week as undemocratic and potentially unconstitutional.

Jim Pharris, senior assistant attorney general, said he was skeptical that Eyman could make I-800 retroactive to Nov. 1, 2002, because the state constitution says initiatives are effective one month after the election in which they are adopted.

And Phil Talmadge, a former Supreme Court justice and likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2004, said that under the state constitution, legislation needs only a simple majority in both houses to pass, or a 60 percent vote in the case of bonds or expansion of gambling. Raising the standard to require a supermajority, he said, would require a constitutional amendment.

Initiative 601, approved by voters in 1993, imposed on the Legislature a two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases a feature never challenged in court.

Eyman has until July to gather about 200,000 valid voter signatures to secure I-800 a place on next November's ballot.

 

 

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