Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Principle and Compromise

De-Escalate Washington, Tim Eyman, Initiative 940, initiative, democracy, shootings

Last Friday, Tim Eyman — the Evergreen State’s best-known ballot initiative practitioner — won an important court case.

But he also scuttled an amazingly impressive compromise between state legislators, police, and the proponents of Initiative 940.

The measure was written and promoted by De-Escalate Washington, a group that includes several relatives of deceased victims of recent controversial police shootings. I-940 would implement violence de-escalation and mental health training for police, and require law enforcement personnel to provide first-aid to save lives. Most likely Washington voters tell pollsters they approve.

De-Escalate Washington got the required signatures, sending this “indirect initiative” to Olympia. The Legislature was faced with three choices:

  • approve the initiative as written;
  • not act, letting the measure go to the ballot; or
  • approve an alternative and place both proposals on the ballot.

The Legislature tried to “create a fourth option”: it passed the measure with amendments.

And that’s what Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller found unconstitutional. She sent the measure, un-amended, to the ballot for a vote of the people.

Interestingly, those amendments were the result of negotiations among the measure’s advocates, the police, and the Legislature. There had been many congratulations all around on the “historic” compromise. But, “historic” or no, legislatures must follow the law.

Tim Eyman is pleased that the court defended the constitutionally defined initiative process by definitively siding against the backroom compromise.

And voters will still get the chance to vote on the proposal.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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By: CS Admin


  1. Pat says:

    And voters will still get the chance to vote on the proposal.

    And then, if the initiative passes,  some court will likely strike it down.

  2. Ken says:

    Seems like a heavy-handed response by the court. Based on the legal options stated in above, the appropriate response, either by the legislature initially, or the court subsequently, would have been to submit both the original initiative and the amended alternate to the voters to decide.

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