While there were some 40 proposals for initiatives to the people filed this year, variety was much thinner. More than two-thirds of them were efforts by perennial initiative pusher Tim Eyman to block some type of tax. The deadline for turning in signatures was last month; no one did.
Another 140 proposals have been filed so far this year as initiatives to the Legislature, which would send a bill to the 2022 session that could make lawmakers say “What a great idea! Why didn’t we think of that?” and approve, or ignore and send to that November’s ballot.
Again, the vast majority — 114 of the total — are the anti-tax musings of Eyman, filed after a Thurston County Superior Court judge fined him $2.6 million for ongoing campaign finance violations and noted it would be “difficult for the court to conceive of a case with misconduct that is more egregious or more extensive.” That’s also the case that Eyman once said would, if he lost, put a lifetime ban on his political activity.
Apparently not. If anything, it has made his political activity even more frenetic.
Another two dozen initiatives to the Legislature have been filed by Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, on a variety of red-meat conservative topics. They include keeping schools from teaching anything about institutional or systemic racism; banning “vaccine passports” to prove one has been vaccinated against COVID-19; limiting the governor’s emergency powers; banning a state income tax and requiring voters to approve any tax increase.
An initiative to the Legislature filed by a legislator is something of an end-around, an admission that none of those ideas has a chance of passing the usual way.
But it’s not easy. It requires almost 325,000 valid signatures of registered Washington voters — no duplicates allowed — submitted by December 30. That means organization and money, neither of which shows up at this point in the state Public Disclosure Commission reports.
It’s also worth noting that the initiative process was originally conceived as a way for the public to get the Legislature to address issues it was ignoring, not for lawmakers to force the Legislature to take up issues they couldn’t get enough support to consider on their own.