The Senate is taking up a liquor tax. Right now. It clearly is an orchestrated effort to challenge Initiative 960.
It started with Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, asking Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, president of the Washington Senate, how many votes it will take to pass Senate Bill 6931. That’s the bill that would raise the liquor tax by 42 cents a liter to pay for more drunken driving enforcement by the Washington State Patrol and more treatment for drug addicts and alcholics.
Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, is prime sponsor. The tax would raise about $12 million a year, to be split half and half between the two programs.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, just finished the floor speech that frames the issue. That is, the constitution says bills, including tax bills, can be passed by a simple majority. I-960 says tax bills need a two-thirds majority. But the constitution trumps an initiative. So there!
Owen just said he’ll rule later on how many votes are needed to pass Sentate Bill 6931. If he says it takes 33 votes to pass the liquor tax increase, he’s siding with Eyman and the initiative. If he say it takes only 25, he’s siding with Brown and the constitution.