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How many House votes does it take to repeal a tax break?

Post by News Tribune Staff on March 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm with No Comments »
March 3, 2009 12:02 pm

House Republicans want Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, to make a ruling on whether the House can repeal tax breaks with a simple majority vote of the 98 representatives, or whether it takes a two-thirds supermajority.

(The layman lawyer in me says if you’re not paying taxes today, but you have to start paying taxes tomorrow, your taxes have been raised. But I get it wrong too often to be confident in that assessment.)

The GOPers think Initiative 960 and Initiative 601 say a two-thirds vote in needed. But what really matters (at least early on during a legislative session) is what the Speaker of the House rules and what the President of the Senate rules for that chamber.

Minority Republican Floor Leader Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, says about 2:30 p.m., the minority party (they’re outnumbered 62-36 by Democrats)will ask Chopp to issue a ruling on House Bill 1504. It has something to do with gas taxes.

I-601 and I-960, which say any tax increase requires a two-thirds vote by the Legislature or a public vote for approval, are being challenged by Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. But the Washington Supreme Court doesn’t appear as if it’s going to issue a ruling on its constitutionality in time to help the Democratic majorities. That’s why they are talking about a ballot measure.

UPDATE: This was just brought to my attention: House Bill 2212. It appears to be an attempt to “clarify” that repealing a tax break isn’t really raising taxes for anyone.

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