Two-Thirds Requirment a Hot Topic as the Legislative Session Begins
Should a 2/3 majority be required to raise taxes? Washington voters several times said yes! But last year the State Supreme Court overturned the law and said that a two-thirds constitutional amendment was necessary.
Initiative sponsor Tim Eyman is pushing an initiative that would require lawmakers to do just that. It also gives lawmakers an ultimatum. Either put the two-thirds issue on the ballot or cut the sales tax by one percent. Many democrats are against the two-thirds requirement. Democratic Representative Ross Hunter from Medina says it would make it more difficult to govern, "The constitution is pretty clear on terms of what it takes to govern the state, I think we do a pretty responsible job of governing the state without the two-thirds requirement."
15th District Republic Representative Bruce Chandler disagrees, "I think the voters have spoken on the issue numerous times before and I think we ought to give it a serious hearing."
Chandler says lawmakers should take a look at it because voters have spoken several times on the issue. Meanwhile GOP Senator Pam Roach is urging her colleagues to pass a measure adding the two-thirds requirement to the constitution.
"There is no issue that garners greater voter support from the public than the popular 2/3-for-taxes vote requirement," said Roach.
The voters approved the 2/3 legislative requirement for taxes in 2012's Initiative 1185 by 62% statewide. It did not go into effect due to a court ruling of unconstitutionality soon after enactment.
"The resolution I am offering would allow voters the opportunity to put protections directly into the state constitution. I believe the voters should have the right to vote financial safeguards into the constitution. Only the legislature can forward that option to the voters," said Roach.
The resolution is worded as SJR 8205 which Roach introduced last year.
The legislature will likely not act on the bill Roach stated. "The legislature clearly does not want what the voters want," said Roach, "but by reintroducing the bill senators can make a statement to the voters in their districts. If they agree to sign on as a sponsor then they are on record as moving the bill forward. If they refuse to sign," said Roach. "They obviously do not support the bill."
The legislative session kicked off today in Olympia.