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Eyman's initiative: Annual votes on supermajority rule for tax hikes

Nearly two months have passed since the Washington Supreme Court tossed out a voter-approved two-thirds requirement for tax hikes.

On Monday anti-tax activist Tim Eyman proposed an initiative he describes as a “lobbying tool” to bring back the super majority rule. Eyman’s proposal would require annual advisory votes asking the public if it wants the Legislature to enshrine the two-thirds threshold into the state constitution.

“The voters have said over and over and over, and over, and over again that they want this policy, but the Supreme Court said, 'You’ve got to get the Legislature to do a two-thirds for taxes constitutional amendment, that’s the only way you can do it.’ So we’re doing exactly what they told us we needed to do," said Eyman. 

Eyman’s initiative would also sunset all tax increases after one year unless they were previously approved by voters. And candidates for re-election who vote for taxes would have that information printed alongside their picture in the voters’ pamphlet.

Eyman would not say when he plans to try to run this initiative. To make this November’s ballot, the deadline, initiative sponsors must collect nearly 250,000 valid voter signatures by July 5.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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  • OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman says he wants to make it easier to put an initiative on the ballot. Eyman submitted nearly 350,000 signatures Thursday for his latest ballot measure. But critics are suspicious. Eyman’s so-called "Protect the Initiative Act" would give signature-gatherers new protections from harassment. It would also stretch the time initiative backers have to gather signatures in Washington from six months to one year. By comparison Oregon allows up to two years. One of Eyman’s partners in Initiative 517 is Edward Agazarm. “Eddie Spaghetti” -- as he’s known in the business -- used to operate the largest signature-gathering firm in Washington. “What we’re trying to do with 517 is put the citizen back in the citizens’ initiative," Agazarm says. "Right now all you have are corporations, big labor and billionaires who are buying the ballot.” Agazarm and Eyman say with more time to collect signatures, grassroots groups would have a better shot at making it on the ballot. However, critics on the left counter this initiative on initiatives is really about turning signature-gathering into a year-round business for Eyman and others who have made it a profession.