2012 Election

Judge Dismisses Eyman's Complaint Against 1185 Fiscal Note

By Josh Feit August 24, 2012

In a brief (two-page) decision, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon "dismissed in full and with prejudice" Tim Eyman's legal challenge to the Office of Financial Management's fiscal note on I-1185, the new Eyman initiative that would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes.

While it's impossible to attach a price tag to the two-thirds rule (though the lefty Washington Budget & Policy Center tried to do that just yesterday), the OFM did guesstimate that another aspect of 1185, requiring the legislature to approve (with a simple majority vote) state agency fees, would cause the legislature to reassess fees and could cost between $22 and $33 million over the next five years. (After voters approved Eyman's previous two-thirds measure, I-1053 in 2010, the Attorney General's office ruled the legislature had to authorize agencies to enact fees. At that time, some fees were re-authorized and some were not; OFM does not predict what the legislature will do—thus the possible range of costs.)

Today, Eyman, who represented himself, argued that 1185 is identical to 1053 and given that 1053 didn't come with a fiscal estimate, 1185 shouldn't either. Voting on fees, he said, doesn't cost anything.

However, the AG's office, defending OFM in court today, argued that the AG's ruling on fees was issued after 1053 was on the ballot and presented a new set of facts for OFM to consider when assessing the initiative.

Eyman, the AG's office said, didn't have a case to prevent OFM from doing its job.

The judge agreed.

After the hearing, Eyman said voters already understand the rule—they passed 1053 by 63.7 percent in 2010—and OFM's new fiscal note wouldn't poison his cause.
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