Eyman pulls back two initiatives, vows return

By HUNTER T. GEORGE

Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Permanent Offense is on temporary hold.

Mukilteo activist Tim Eyman notified state elections officials on Tuesday that he has withdrawn two ballot proposals designed to limit taxes.

The move came one day after an opposition group filed lawsuits challenging the measures’ official ballot titles and descriptions written by the Attorney General’s Office.

Eyman, who has parlayed his home-based activism into a policy group called Permanent Offense, said he pulled the measures because his critics clearly were attempting to "run out the clock" by keeping him tied up in court. He had until Dec. 29 to collect more than 179,000 signatures, but the issue was scheduled for a court hearing on Dec. 22, a day Eyman said was important to him.

"I don’t want to be in court on my birthday," he said.

Eyman said he’ll file the measures again in January.

Knoll Lowney, a Seattle lawyer leading a newly formed opposition group called Permanently Offended, said Eyman must have realized he could not defend his poorly written measures before a Thurston County judge.

"He’s just so full of hot air," Lowney said, adding that the group will be ready to challenge the measures again. The ballot titles and summaries failed to adequately describe the devastating financial impact Eyman’s proposals would have on critical government programs, he said.

Eyman, who already has seen voters approve his proposals to curb affirmative action, cut taxes on automobile licenses and limit property taxes, filed the two latest proposals last month.

Initiative 251 would limit the growth of total state tax revenues to the rate of inflation, beginning with the year 2000, with the intent of encouraging the Legislature to reduce property taxes to stay within the limit.

I-252 would require voter approval for all future local government tax and fee increases, and would restore such taxes and fees to their Jan. 1, 2000, levels, unless approved by voters.

The measures marked Eyman’s attempt to bring back key elements of Initiative 695, his voter-approved tax-revolt measure of 1999 that was struck down by the Washington State Supreme Court.

Both were filed as initiatives to the Legislature. That meant that Eyman had until Dec. 29 to get official ballot titles, print petitions and collect enough signatures to force state lawmakers to consider them in January.

In November, Eyman acknowledged that he probably could not make the deadline, but he said all the work this fall would give him a head start when he filed the measures again in January.

He abandoned that strategy Tuesday when he withdrew the measures.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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