By David Ammons, Associated Press
OLYMPIA – Initiative activist Tim Eyman’s latest anti-tax measure is apparently headed to the November statewide ballot.
Eyman on Friday cleared two big hurdles and seems assured of a public vote on his Initiative 960. A King County Superior Court judge rejected critics’ attempts to keep the measure off the ballot.
And in Olympia, the secretary of state’s office reported that Eyman has turned in more than 314,000 voter signatures and that a random check will begin Monday to make sure there are 225,000 valid ones.
Eyman is considered all but certain to qualify since he turned in so many signatures.
Eyman, who brought the state $30 car tabs, property tax limits and a rollback of affirmative action, recently has had a bumpy ride as the state’s top initiative promoter. Last year, he failed to qualify for the ballot.
His I-960, the only citizen initiative headed for the ballot this year, would make it harder to raise taxes in Olympia and would require much more public information about all finance proposals. A referendum on a new law dealing with insurance also is expected to qualify for the ballot.
An environmental group called Futurewise and the Service Employees International Union Local 775 had asked King County Superior Court to block the Eyman measure from the ballot. They asserted that facets of his initiative need a constitutional amendment, which cannot be done by citizen initiative. They noted a provision requiring a two-thirds supermajority for the Legislature to raise taxes and a reference to requiring voter approval for certain tax hikes. Eyman said the criticism was unfounded.
Judge Catherine Shaffer ruled Friday that the proposal is within the initiative power of the people.
Attorney General Rob McKenna said later that he’s pleased the courts protected citizens’ rights to vote on initiatives. The time for a constitutional challenge is after the vote, he said.
Critics already have created an opposition campaign, No on I-960. Gov. Chris Gregoire has said the measure isn’t needed.