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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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November 29, 2007 10:02 AM

The special session begins

Posted by David Postman

In recent years Tim Eyman has shown up in Olympia as Darth Vader, a gorilla and a prisoner. This morning he showed up pretty much as a politician. He loves costumes, but he didn't dress the part today. He was dressed in Mukilteo casual: khaki cargo pants, hiking boots and a pullover atop a T-shirt.

But he ducked questions like a veteran pol, launched a partisan attack and said even though lawmakers were set to do exactly as he had wanted, it's not enough. And maybe that's only fair given that Democratic lawmakers will codify Eyman's initiative while trying to convince all that it has nothing to do with Eyman himself.

Gov. Christine Gregoire called lawmakers in to special session today to pass a law limiting annual increases in property tax collections. They're expected to do that by day's end, and what they'll pass will be exactly what Eyman has long said state voters and deserve: a 1 percent statewide cap on property tax increases.

The action is needed because the state Supreme Court threw out Eyman's voter-approved Initiative 747, which imposed the limit in 2001.

But for Eyman, it's no longer enough to watch Democrats who once railed against him and his anti-tax ways embrace his policies. Eyman appeared outside the Senate chambers this morning to say what Democrats will pass is a sham because it doesn't deal with so-called "banked capacity." You can see a good explanation of banked capacity in this Q&A in this morning's paper.

"Gregoire and the Democrats don't care about taxpayers," Eyman declared. The bill they're expected to pass, he said, "Is 1 percent in name only."

But he was asked, by me and others, why, if it is so important to restrict use of banked tax capacity, didn't he deal with it in his own initiative? And if the bill does everything his very own I-747 did, did he pull a fast one on voters, too? No answer to that.

The Legislature today is set to do exactly what Eyman wanted voters to do, the same thing he argued that the Supreme Court should do. But instead of declaring victory — and rightfully watching Democrats eat some tax-flavored crow — Eyman says the Legislature is trying to fool the public.

Not all lawmakers are happy about being here to impose an Eyman initiative on the people. As Eyman talked to the press outside the Senate chambers, Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, stood nearby with a thick pile of papers in his hand. As Eyman finished his press conference, Kline confronted him.

You can hear their confrontation here.

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