(The Center Square) — Legal maneuvering by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman has successfully delayed efforts — including printing petitions and collecting signatures — on five ballot initiatives that would make changes to the code of the State of Washington governing capital gains taxes.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Indu Thomas sided with Eyman in a recent ruling against a motion to consolidate the five cases.
Eyman filed five separate lawsuits claiming that Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s ballot papers on initiatives 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1938 ignore the law requiring neutral wording.
Seattle attorney Eric “Knoll” Lowney, sponsor of the five initiatives, responded to Eyman’s lawsuit with a lawsuit of his own claiming that the ballot headlines weren’t favorable enough.
When the Attorney General’s office asked a judge to decide all five cases, Eyman objected, which required a hearing before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas.
Before allowing the consolidation review, Thomas posed a preliminary question regarding whether Lowney had erred in filing one lawsuit instead of five individual lawsuits.
In hearing briefs on the preliminary issue, Lowney and the state argued for consolidating the cases based on precedent, while Eyman claims Lowney and his legal team violated state law and local rules by not filing separate briefs.
“A consolidated petition is an inappropriate method of appealing similar voting titles,” Thomas said in the findings of fact and finding of law portion of his May 26 decision. “Consolidation is a matter for the Court and not for the parties.
“The fact that the Court has in the past allowed consolidation of a party does not in itself confirm the proposition that consolidation is the correct outcome in these cases or that a consolidated petition is proper under the law.”
On this basis, Thomas rejected the request for consolidation.
“IT IS ORDERED that all 5 initiatives be removed,” she said.
On his Permanent offense website, Eyman hailed Thomas’ decision as a significant victory against what he called “5 Liberal initiatives trying to raise capital gains taxes EVEN HIGHER.”
The five initiatives would do one or a combination of the following: raise the capital gains threshold above which capital gains tax must be paid, add or increase capital gains tax exemptions, and add a surtax or increase capital gains tax rates for higher capital gains. the amounts.
Last year, the Legislature passed and Governor Jay Inslee signed into law a law creating a 7% tax on profits from the sale of assets, such as stocks and bonds, above $250,000.
Center Square reached out to Lowney to comment on the decision but received no response.
The attorney general’s office was also discreet.
“This is a procedural decision regarding actions taken by an initiative sponsor, not our office,” Brionna Aho, communications director at the Attorney General’s office, said in an email to The Center Square. . “As such, we would have no particular comment.”
Thomas’s decision makes it all the more difficult to collect signatures to get the initiatives voted on in time. Hearings with five different judges who will decide on the wording of the five initiative voting titles will have to be scheduled. Only after the judges have rendered their decisions can the petitions be printed.
According to the Secretary of State website, to be certified, petitions must contain at least 324,516 registered voters, with a recommendation that at least 405,000 signatures be collected to allow for invalid signatures. Petitions must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on July 8.