Tim Eyman targets red-light cameras with statewide initiative

OLYMPIA — One day into the 2012 legislative session and initiatives already are rolling in.

Initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman of Mukilteo may try to cash in this year on a growing public resentment of red light camera use in the state.

He’s submitted language for a ballot measure requiring every automated camera be removed unless, or until, voters approve its deployment.

“For-profit camera surveillance is simply taxation-through-citation,” begins the initiative filed Friday dubbed the “Let the Voters Decide on Red-Light Cameras.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, an Everett attorney took aim at same-sex marriage by filing an initiative to make crystal clear in state law that marriage is between “one man and one woman.”

The two initiatives are among eight filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. To get on the November ballot, sponsors must collect and turn in signatures of at least 241,153 registered voters by early July.

In the past, Eyman had rejected a statewide initiative on the controversial cameras in favor of fighting the battle one community at a time.

In 2011, he had a hand in passing anti-red light camera measures in Monroe, Bellingham and Longview. And in 2010, Mukilteo, his home town, became the first Washington community to vote out enforcement cameras.

“There’s always been the option of a statewide measure,” he said. “I do believe it would be an absolute slam dunk.”

Under the measure filed last week, no government entity could contract to install cameras and issue tickets without approval by a majority vote of the governing body and a majority vote of the people.

It was one of five initiatives Eyman filed. The others deal with requiring a supermajority vote of lawmakers to raise taxes, capping the cost of vehicle registration tabs at $30, fighting fraud in government, and protecting the initiative process.

Which one, or maybe two, he pursues won’t be settled for a few weeks.

“We want to see what happens this legislative session to see what problems we want to give the voters a chance to solve,” he said.

Plus, he said, he doesn’t want to tip his hand out of concern lawmakers will move swiftly to block him through legislation.

“They’re just really sneaky. They could sabotage us,” he said.

Everett attorney Stephen Pidgeon submitted language to revise and reaffirm the existing state law known as the Defense of Marriage Act.

It defines marriage as a “civil contract between a male and a female” and the initiative would change the language to read a “civil contract between one man and one woman.”

“It is about correctly defining marriage,” he said.

Pidgeon is well-versed in this fight. He represented the coalition that fought to repeal domestic partnership rights in 2009 with Referendum 71.

He acknowledged he acted with an eye to the possibility of lawmakers making it legal for same-sex couples to marry.

Getting his initiative on the ballot would, he said, give voters a chance to express their opinion on how marriage should be defined.

“This is part of an ongoing fight to reestablish marriage in this state,” he said, noting no church or social conservative organization is behind his effort. “There is nobody financially supporting this at this moment.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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