Washington News

The Seattle Times
July 03, 2004

Gambling Measure Qualifies For Ballot

By: The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Tax rebel Tim Eyman has failed to gather enough signatures to force a public vote this fall on a plan to slash local property taxes, but did get enough signatures to likely put an expansion of gambling on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Yesterday, the last day for initiative sponsors to submit petitions to the Secretary of State's Office, Eyman and co-sponsors brought in an estimated 156,000 voter signatures — about 70,000 too few to be assured a place on the ballot for his Initiative 864.

I-864 would have cut all local property tax levies not approved by voters by 25 percent. Local agencies and civic leaders had worried that his plan would have devastated basic services.

"His slash-and-burn approach just doesn't work," said Andrew Villeneuve of Permanent Defense, an opposition group. "The tax revolt is a myth."

Eyman said he'll be back in January with a similar property-tax initiative, probably more stringent than the failed one.

Eyman failed to qualify initiatives for the ballot last year after dominating initiative politics for years, bringing voters $30 license tabs and property-tax limits and helping to roll back affirmative action.

Eyman had more than enough signatures to likely qualify his second property-tax initiative of the year, I-892. That initiative would allow electronic slot machines in nontribal venues and use taxes on the profits to lower property taxes.

I-892 is funded by the nontribal gaming industry, and Eyman has been receiving a weekly salary for his work on the campaign.

"We win some, we lose some, but we never stop fighting," Eyman said. It's not unusual for it to take several years to win voter approval for an idea, he said.

To get on the Nov. 2 ballot, sponsors need nearly 198,000 valid signatures. To compensate for illegible signatures, duplicates or signatures from people who aren't registered to vote in Washington, the Secretary of State's Office recommends submitting tens of thousands more than the minimum.

Here's an update on other ballot measures:


• I-884: Backers of a one-penny-on-the-dollar sales-tax increase, to raise money for education, brought in about 320,000 signatures. That virtually guarantees a place on the ballot.

• I-872: The state Grange submitted an additional batch of 75,000 signatures for a "top two" state primary, bringing the total to more than 305,000 and assuring a ballot spot.

• I-297: A vote is guaranteed on this measure to try to stop the federal government from using the state as a radioactive-waste repository until old wastes have been cleaned up.

• Referendum 55: Foes of a new charter-school law earlier collected enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot.

• I-890 and I-891: Efforts to ban smoking in all public places and a counterproposal for designated smoking areas failed to get enough signatures.

• Other unsuccessful measures dealt with highway funding, a call to incarcerate some sex offenders for life after one conviction and a plan to allow insurance companies to offer health-care plans that are free of state coverage mandates.

Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.

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