Ferguson is actively sabotaging I-976 w/ Dept of Licensing – outside counsel only option. Watch Sound Transit’s TCC Executive Director threaten me.
Watch the Executive Director of Sound Transit’s Transportation Choices Coalition in Seattle threaten me:
Let that sink in.
Because of his long standing support and defense of Sound Transit, Bob Ferguson is actively sabotaging Initiative 976 through the Department of Licensing (see below). As Sen. Steve O’Ban wrote in his letter to Ferguson: “Your office must recuse itself from such a defense and hire outside legal counsel to defend the Initiative in any legal proceedings. You must agree that recusal is your office’s only option, since your office is in the midst of defending the State in a lawsuit centered on the constitutionality of the same excise tax that Initiative 976 repealed. In that case, the Attorney General joined with Sound Transit’s arguments that the motor vehicle excise tax employed by Sound Transit does not violate Article II, section 37 of the Washington State Constitution. The Attorney General’s actions to protect the same tax that Initiative 976 repealed is a clear conflict of interest that goes directly against your office’s capacity to defend the Initiative.” https://www.documentcloud.org/
In addition, Ferguson is conflicted and must recuse and name outside counsel because, as Sen. Doug Ericksen wrote: “Regardless of how you feel about Bob Ferguson, there is no way to argue that he is not compromised in this situation. His own actions have compromised him. The wealthy powers that be, made the $30 tab initiative about Tim Eyman. Bob Ferguson is currently engaged in a holy war against Mr. Eyman on issues prior to this initiative passing. In order for the public to have confidence that the state is doing its duty to defend the vote of the people, AG Ferguson has no choice but to contract with outside law firms for the defense of this initiative.”
It is a complete farce to have pro-Sound-Transit, anti-Tim-Eyman, sabotager-in-chief-at-DOL Bob Ferguson defending voter-approved I-976.
Seattle government suing the voters because they didn’t like the voters’ decision is arrogant and infuriating. The people outside Seattle don’t want these dishonest vehicle taxes and fees and they shouldn’t be forced to continue to pay them just because Seattle is OK with such dishonesty.
Their legal complaint is sloppy and weak because it was slapped together so quickly.
Seventeen years ago, various governments filed a lawsuit just like this one against Initiative 776 which voters passed in 2002. Back then, they claimed that I-776 violated the Constitution in multiple ways. But the supreme court rejected them all. As the Seattle PI reported then: The state Supreme Court upheld Eyman’s Initiative 776 on every point that came before it. Eyman was ecstatic yesterday. “It’s gratifying when the voters get what they voted for,” he said, adding that it is “nice to see the justices moving closer to the voters.”
From the Court’s ruling (again, Seattle’s lawsuit against I-976 mirrors these same complaints):
1. SINGLE SUBJECT: Opponents “failed to show” that “I-776 required the people to cast a single vote on two unrelated, proposed laws.”
EYMAN COMMENT: Seattle’s lawsuit against I-976 is the most absurd when it comes to this. The bill title reads: “AN ACT Relating to limiting taxes, fees, and other charges relating to vehicles.” Every provision in I-976 does that. The initiative in 2002, like I-976, put $30 limit on tabs, repealed state taxes, local fees, the valuation schedule, and addressed bond retirement issues, etc.
I-976, just like I-776, does those same things. Single subject on I-776, single subject on I-976.
2. BALLOT TITLE: Opponents have not “met their burden” to show “I-776’s ballot title failed to notify … the public of the subject matter of the measure.”
EYMAN COMMENT: That was what the court ruled for I-776 which read: Initiative Measure No. 776 concerns state and local government charges on motor vehicles. Here is the subject matter for I-976: Initiative Measure No. 976 concerns motor vehicle taxes and fees.
My current attorney and former supreme court justice Richard Sanders recently completed a policy analysis of a different tax initiative. In it, he wrote this: Does the Attorney General’s ballot title comply with the subject-in-title requirement of Article II, Section 19 of the Washington Constitution? Const. Art. II, Sec. 19 provides: No bill shall embrace more than one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title. The rule requires the legislation’s subject to be embraced in the title. For initiatives, the title is prepared by the Attorney General. The courts have been extremely reluctant to find a voter-approved initiative invalid under this requirement. Here’s an excerpt from a very recent supreme court ruling: The purpose of the subject-in-title rule is to notify members of the legislature and the public of the subject matter of a measure…”’[A] title complies with the constitution if it gives notice that would lead to an inquiry into the body of the act, or indicate to an inquiring mind the scope and purpose of the law.’”… The title need not be an index to the contents, nor must it provide details of the measure. Washington Ass’n for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention v. State, 174 Wn.2d 642, 660 (2012) (citations omitted).
EYMAN COMMENT: The ballot title for I-776 conveyed the subject matter of the measure and was upheld; the ballot title for I-976 does the same.
3. LOCAL HOME RULE: Opponents “contend that I-776 violates precepts of local home rule … The argument lacks merit. Article XI, section 12 permits the state to legislate what taxes and fees local governments are allowed to impose. The legislature or the people legislating by initiative may rescind by general laws the authority previously granted.”
EYMAN COMMENT: It’s very weird that their lawsuit brings up the exact same argument the court rejected with I-776. The Legislature granted authority to local governments to unilaterally impose vehicle fees. And voters didn’t like that, and so they repealed that authority with I-976. A first year law student knows the idea of preemption: local governments do not have independent taxing authority – they are only allowed to impose those taxes and fees the state allows them to. And as the ruling says, the state “may rescind” the authority previously granted. And that’s what the voters did when they passed I-976.
4. INITIATIVE SCOPE: “Sound Transit argues that, in repealing the MVET, I-776 exceeded the scope of the initiative power. … As a general law repealing an existing general law, I-776 does not exceed the scope of the people’s constitutionally granted initiative power.”
EYMAN COMMENT: Again, very strange this same argument is being made with Seattle’s lawsuit because it was rejected by the court before.
5. DUE PROCESS RIGHTS: “Sound Transit suggests that I-776 … violated the transit agency’s due process rights … The claimed deprivation of ‘life, liberty, or property’ caused by I-776 presupposes that, when a local government decides to embark on a public project, the people of that jurisdiction acquire a vested property right in the completion of the project, regardless of subsequent state law. No authority exists for that proposition. … Sound Transit has no basis for asserting that I-776 caused a deprivation of a vested property right.”
EYMAN COMMENT: Same bizarre complaint is being made in Seattle’s new lawsuit – court rejected this argument before.
6. BOND IMPAIRMENT: “… we cannot conclude that I-776 “substantially impair[ed] King County’s contractual relationship with its bondholders.”
EYMAN COMMENT: I-976 takes effect on December 5, 2019. So on that day, state and local governments are obligated to follow the laws in I-976. Among those laws, there is section 12 which requires Sound Transit to retire or refinance its car-tab-taxed bonds. It reads “In order to effectuate the policies, purposes, and intent of this act and to ensure that the motor vehicle excise taxes repealed by this act are no longer imposed or collected, an authority that imposes a motor vehicle excise tax under RCW 81.104.160 must fully retire, defease, or refinance any outstanding bonds issued under this chapter …”.
That law, that mandate — must fully retire, defease, or refinance — takes effect on December 5. They have from now until then to prepare for that law.
The Department of Licensing – which shares the same building as the AG and like all state agencies is legally advised by the AG — told KING 5 and other news outlets that Sound Transit’s taxes will continue to be imposed after December 5 and won’t go away until March 31, 2020. That is not what I-976 requires. The language is unambiguous “must fully retire, defease, or refinance …”. Section 16 simply says that Sound Transit’s vehicle taxes and the dishonest valuation schedule (sections 10 & 11) are repealed after Sound Transit complies with section 12 (retiring or refinancing the bonds on December 5). Knowing that Sound Transit is such a lawless and unaccountable government, I-976 includes a contingency: if Sound Transit goes rogue and doesn’t follow this mandate, this law, this requirement by March 31, 2020, then the 0.8% rate is reduced to 0.2%. But that reduction in the rate is not “instead of” getting rid of the dishonest tax and the dishonest valuation schedule the voters voted to repeal with I-976. The lowering of the rate does not obviate the statutory requirement that they retire or refinance the bonds to get the taxes and valuation schedule to go away. They still have to do that … on December 5. That’s what the voters just voted for; they just told state and local governments to stop imposing those taxes and fees.
Can Sound Transit retire them early? Yes. Their lawyer said so in that same Seattle PI news story in 2003: “Brown, the Sound Transit lawyer, said it could retire them early, but it would be costly.”
After 3 public votes, the voters deserve to get what they’ve voted for 3 times.
7. In sum, Pierce County and Sound Transit are unable to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that I-776 violated constitutional precepts of local home rule, exceeded the scope of the initiative power, or deprived the voters of a vested property right.”
In retaliation for I-976’s passage, I’ve been blocked from Facebook. So I’m censored and cannot let people know what’s going on. TAX ADVOCATE TIM EYMAN LANDS IN FACEBOOK JAIL. https://newstalk870.am/tax-
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