Sen. Pam Roach, who asked Attorney General Rob McKenna to interpret the effect of tax-limiting Initiative 1053 on the Transportation Commission’s authority, has weighed in on the informal legal opinion issued Monday by McKenna’s office.
Roach, R-Auburn, blasted Democratic Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen for telling The News Tribune she would push to restore the Transportation Commission’s fee-setting authority in light of I-1053’s restrictions. Roach said such an effort would be “met by the fiercest resistance.”
Haugen says setting the dollar amount of fees is too time consuming a job for a citizen legislature.
Read the news release from Roach (fired off from all the way in Germany, by the way):
December 21, 2010U.S. Air Force Base, Spangdahlem, Germany
Legislature should not divest itself from regained authority to set transportation tolls and feesLast month I requested an informal opinion of Attorney General Rob McKenna regarding the effects of I-1053. Specifically, I asked if the Transportation Commission was still able to impose toll and fee increases given the clear language of I-1053 requiring a recorded vote in the House and Senate. I was extremely gratified that Attorney General Rob McKenna’s opinion because it backs up the plain reading of the initiative, requiring the Legislature to specifically approve such increases. The responsibility for such impactful decisions must shift back to the Legislature.
I-1053 requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature to raise taxes, but it also clearly requires a simple majority vote of both chambers and a governor’s signature to raise fees, tolls, and ferry fares.
As a citizen legislator and co-sponsor of the initiative, I know that the people want to hold their elected officials accountable for all revenue increases.
Despite being in Germany right now, I have been monitoring the reaction to McKenna’s ruling. I was appalled at Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) comments that she wants the first vote of the next Legislature to violate the will of 64% of the people (http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/12/21/1473622/attorney-general-rob-mckenna-sides.html). She said she wants the Democratic caucus to vote to have the legislature divest itself of the responsibility for deciding transportation fees and tolls and place it back with an unelected, unaccountable, commission. That is disingenuous, counter to the will of the voters, and just a bad idea. I cannot believe there is even one Republican who will support such a measure.
I-1053 puts the process of funding transportation back out into the open. Citizens will no longer have to genuflect before a commission — all hand-picked by the Governor — that has been gifted the right to circumvent the legislature without accountability. The people of this state clearly voted to take back the control of their government. The 64% vote for I-1053 can only reflect a non-partisan demand for greater accountability, not less. Senator Haugen is clearly out of step with the people and will place her party at even greater peril in 2012 should they follow her lead. Republicans must stand unified against Senator Haugen’s arrogant suggestion to override the will of the people. We will be the party that demands the effects of I-1053 stand.
Years ago, legislators figured they could avoid the potential wrath of voters if they could just find a way to blame someone else. And they did. The legislature voted to give away its authority, and with it their responsibility and accountability, to the Transportation Commission, which has been working outside of the “accountability zone” for decades. It is wrong to have such a powerful body of unelected individuals making such impactful decisions.
I am confident that any attempt by the Democrat majority to sidestep the will of the people on I-1053 will be met by the fiercest resistence.