Tax-cutting I-722 put on hold across state


Associated Press

OLYMPIA – The lawsuit against tax-cutting Initiative 722 is growing.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy today certified the case as a class action, meaning the entire state could become involved.

I-722 passed last month with 56 percent of the vote. Sponsored by anti-tax crusader Tim Eyman, the initiative requires a refund of taxes and fees imposed since July 2, 1999. It also limits property tax growth to 2 percent a year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

A few days after the election, a group of cities and counties filed a lawsuit claiming that I-722 is unconstitutional for a variety of reasons.

Today’s decision means that all cities and taxing districts in the state do not have to worry about following I-722 until the courts decide its constitutionality, which will take months. They are automatically part of the lawsuit.

Counties must choose whether to join the class action. King, Kitsap, Whitman, Pierce, Thurston, Skamania and Clark counties are already part of the lawsuit. Pomeroy told today’s hearing that the rest of the state’s 39 counties must decide whether to participate by Dec. 29.

Everyone who joins the lawsuit can ignore I-722 for now, because Pomeroy last month granted a preliminary injunction to block I-722 from taking effect until she decides the case.

Pomeroy predicted that most, if not all, counties will opt into the lawsuit. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have said that following I-722 right away would mean revamping their entire tax systems within a few weeks, at great expense.

“If some county wants to enforce I-722, let them,” she said. “But I really think you just won’t find that.”

James Johnson, the attorney for the I-722 campaign, noted that I-722 passed by a landslide in many counties and wagered that Pomeroy would be proven wrong.

“My prediction is the majority of Washington counties will not choose to join the case,” he said.

The next step will be in February, when both sides are scheduled to begin arguments on the actual merits of the case.

Pomeroy acknowledged that the outcome in her courtroom will merely set the stage for a state Supreme Court hearing.

“That’s where you’re headed, we all know it,” she said.

That’s what happened to Eyman’s last tax-cutting initiative, I-695, and the high court was not kind to Eyman. In October, it struck down the 1999 initiative as unconstitutional.

I-722 was Eyman’s follow-up to I-695, which eliminated the tax on automobile license tabs in exchange for a flat $30 annual fee, and required that future tax increases be approved by voters. The Legislature has since put the $30 license fee into law.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

Smoke comes out of the roof of ReMyx'd, a restaurant on Smokey Point Drive, on Sunday, May 28, 2023, in Arlington, WA. (IAFF Local 3438)
Fire damages Arlington bar that received death threats

Arlington Police say initial indications are that fire at ReMyx’d does not appear to be intentionally set.

Most Read