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Judge rules Eyman’s voter-approved, anti-tax initiative is unconstitutional

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SEATTLE -- A King County Superior Court judge on Thursday ruled that Tim Eyman's voter-approved anti-tax Initiative 1366 is unconstitutional and invalid.

“It is maddening to have this kind of situation,” Eyman said after the ruling.

I-1366 was the initiative promoter’s latest attempt to require a supermajority vote in the Legislature to raise taxes.

“When you’re doing an initiative that puts limits on government power, government, which certainly includes the courts, [is] going to try to find a way to throw roadblocks in your way,” Eyman said.

Opponents of I-1366 vowed to take the measure to court ever since it passed by a slim voter margin last November.

Here’s a quick refresher on Initiative 1366….

  • It lowers the state’s portion of the sales tax by 1 point (from 6.5% to 5.5%), unless…
  • The Legislature passes a constitutional amendment to require a supermajority to raise taxes.

Thursday's ruling holds that I-1366 is essentially a constitutional amendment, something that can only be initiated by the Legislature, not the people.  Judge William Downing wrote that the initiative usurps “the role of the Legislature by proposing precise terms for a constitutional amendment while applying compulsion to quickly move it forward.”

But Eyman, and the state Attorney General’s Office, which defended the initiative in court, disagree.

“We didn’t circumvent the constitutional amendment process,” Eyman said.  “We just voted to say we want the Legislature to do this thing, and if they don’t do it we just want to protect ourselves with a little bit more of our money.”

Shortly after the ruling, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement in support of the court’s decision.  “Today’s ruling is not unexpected and ensures the Legislature can continue focusing on the necessary priorities of this year’s short session relating to McCleary (education funding), the state’s teacher shortage and funding for mental health and wildfires.”

Eyman and his supporters vow to appeal the decision.