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Category: Supreme Court

Dec.
13th

Washington state Supreme Court says that diversion of gas tax money from off-road-vehicle facilities to state parks was constitutional

A divided Washington state Supreme Court Thursday ruled that a 2009 diversion of gas tax proceeds from off-road-vehicle recreation accounts to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission did not violate state constitutional restrictions on the use of the gas tax.

The case in the Washington Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance v. State of Washington

Three justices agreed with a state court of appeals decision that the recession-era diversion that softened pending cuts to the parks department was a legitimate use of gas tax revenue. Two other justices agreed with the outcome but thought the court should have dismissed the lawsuit

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Oct.
17th

Winners of McCleary school-funding decision are unimpressed with state’s efforts to comply

One month ago, the state Legislature submitted what has become known as the first “post budget filing” to the Washington state Supreme Court outlining how it made “steady progress” toward meeting the courts order to fully fund basic education by 2018.

This was part of the court’s requirement that the Legislature report regularly and was part of the rather rare move by the court to retain jurisdiction in McCleary v. State of Washington. While some in the Legislature have complained that this violates the seperation of powers and the deference one branch should show another, the Legislature formed a

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Oct.
4th

Washington Supreme Court upholds use of toxics tax

Voters approved a law known as the Model Toxics Control Act or MTCA in 1988, but it took until today for a state Supreme Court ruling on whether it was constitutional.

The court decided the law’s tax on hazardous substances — including petroleum products — can be used on environmental cleanup projects as intended.

The court rejected an argument by gas-station owners and others that it was essentially a gas tax, which must be spent for highway purposes.

Not only was the ruling unanimous, but it was written by Justice Jim Johnson, who might be the court’s most conservative member.

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Sep.
17th

In first formal report on McCleary school funding case, Legislature tells Washington Supreme Court: We’re working on it

This is the first response under the Washington Supreme Court’s January ruling in McCleary v. State. In that ruling, the court found that the state has failed to meet its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education. The court also retained jurisdiction until 2018 and over the summer decided to require the Legislature to report annually as to its progress toward meeting the funding obligations.

The first report, the work of a special legislative task force (The Joint Select Committee on Article IX Litigation), met last month to review staff work and submitted this report today. In it, the committee

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Sep.
7th

Disability advocates asking Gov. Gregoire to drop court appeal

Gov. Chris Gregoire has asked the U.S. Supreme Court for extra time to consider an appeal of a 9th Circuit Court ruling in a case that has growing interest for disability activists in Washington and across the country. The case deals with across-the-board budget cuts the Democrat ordered in 2010.

The spending cuts resulted in fewer hours of homecare assistance with washing, laundry, cooking and other chores for some Medicaid clients.

A lawsuit on behalf of a dozen disabled people and eight elderly people sought a restoration of services considered key to helping clients living on their own and outside

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Aug.
21st

How much does lack of party label contribute to undervote for down-ballot primary races?

Some call it ballot fatigue – the tendency of races that fall further down the ballot to receive less attention from voters.

Elections officials, however, call it undervote.

For example, in the just completed primary election in Washington state, 1,435,182 votes were cast — an anemic 38.5 percent. And the race for governor, uncompetitive as it was, got the most love from voters. Just 1.8 percent of those who filled out a ballot did not cast a vote for governor. In the race for U.S. Senate, the undervote was 3.4 percent.

But the dropoff gets more-severe further down the ballot:

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Aug.
7th

Top 10 things we’ll learn from primary vote (UPDATED with answers)

Only between 50 percent and 60 percent 60 and 70 percent of the votes cast for the 2012 Washington state primary will be counted tonight so we will have to wait until at least Friday to know the answers to these questions. (See comment below on turnout).

What we won’t learn for sure is why was turnout so low – low by recent standards and low by the overly rosy prediction by state and local elections officials. Maybe it was the earliest ever primary date, the culmination of a move to increase the time between the primary and the general to help assure that military ballots are returned and counted. Maybe, as one of my colleagues guesses, it is the inability of the primary to compete with the Olympics.

But here, at least, is one list of issues that will be known once primary votes are all tallied:

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Aug.
7th

Voters elect one Supreme Court justice, will probably elect another. Sanders comeback alive for now

With the first batch of votes from counties across the state in and counted, Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens is headed for a primary night victory. Her big lead over two little-known challengers and 60 percent plus statewide total means she will likely appear on the November ballot alone.

But another incumbent justice, Steven Gonzalez who was appointed in January, was in a closer race with Bruce Danielson. Gonzalez was splitting the vote across the state before he received a huge boost from his home county of King that gave him a 57 percent to 43 percent advantage. Whichever candidate

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