Editorial support for legal challenge to I-976 as state prepares for funding shortfalls.

As legal challenges to I-976 go forward, news media commentary reminds voters of why such challenges are appropriate and necessary. The Herald of Everett editorial board writes,

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court challenges I-976 on single-subject grounds and on others, including that its title misled voters on its provisions and impacts; repeals state statutes without disclosing them to voters; that its statewide vote repealed the decisions of local voters; and, specific to Sound Transit, that it would impair contractual bond obligations.

The merits of those issues will be up for courts — and ultimately the state Supreme Court — to determine, but Eyman and his supporters are wrong to claim that this is a case of I-976’s opponents simply not liking the outcome of the election.

Like the automatic replay review of a touchdown in an NFL game, [the initiative] warrants scrutiny on these constitutional issues because so much is at stake.

That need is expressed in the first sentence of the lawsuit: “Whether passed by the Legislature or by the people, all laws in the State of Washington must comply with our Constitution.”

The outcome of I-976’s adoption or rejection matters more than a touchdown.

The editorial also notes the track record of initiative sponsor Tim Eyman:

Eyman, since he launched his first initiative campaign in 1998, has put 17 measures before the voters; six were rejected in elections, and 11 were approved. But of those 11, eight were overturned fully or partially in court,..

Spokesman-Review columnist Jim Camden writes,

Why should the courts get to overrule the voters, once the voters have spoken? they ask.

The answer is pretty basic to the separation of powers, which folks tend to like more when it works in their favor than when it works for the other guy. The main thing to remember is initiatives are like a bill that the Legislature passes and the governor signs into law: If there’s something wrong with them, it’s the court’s job to stop them from taking effect, even when they pass with sizable majorities.

Although almost no one would say the Legislature never makes a mistake, some seem to think the voters’ combined wisdom should never be questioned.

This bit of populist doctrine actually falls apart when one realizes that the percentage of voters who read the entire text of an initiative — I-976 was 18 pages of fairly dense matter with tax rates and vehicle weight charts — is almost certainly no greater than the percentage of legislators who read a bill before they pass it.

And The Columbian editorial board affirms,

Regardless of whether or not voters approve, ballot measures must adhere to state law. That is the impetus behind legal challenges to Initiative 976, passed statewide this month to limit the cost of vehicle registration…

Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide the legality of I-976, which would reduce car tabs to $30. But Eyman’s assertion that the lawsuit simply is a result of government thumbing its nose at the public is misguided, disingenuous and divisive.

We believe the legal challenges have merit. Eventually, we hope soon, we’ll find out if the court agrees. Meanwhile, the state is preparing for $478 million in transportation cuts in the coming 2020 session as a result of I-976 passing.