House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt said this week that his minority caucus wants to change session rules to make it harder to raise taxes. His worry is that the state Supreme Court might toss out Tim Eyman’s two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases. The GOP apparently wants the rules to require a two-thirds vote before a tax bill can move to final reading – in effect giving the minority veto power over tax bills.
Except for possible technical changes, the Democratic majority wants to keep rules pretty much intact from past sessions. So the Eyman amendment, if you will, isn’t likely to pass. The draft rule proposal is here and an outline of House Republicans’ proposals is here.
But the minority party will offer up its ideas, which include a few other rules changes.
As outlined by Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, during a Republican media availability on Wednesday, one proposal is to let citizens who travel to testify on bills in Olympia go ahead of lobbyists. I haven’t seen the proposed language, and Democrats may object to locking it into rules. But I have to think some Democrats who chair committees might be open to the concept as they run their committees.
Two other proposals are to put an education-first budget into the rules and to make sure every lawmaker gets a bill heard.
Most Democrats have regarded the education-first concept as a gimmick, because it doesn’t take into account the cuts to other programs that are implied but not spelled out. Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, for instance, has said that health-care for kids should be on equal footing with school funding.
Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, told me he thinks the one-hearing-per-member rule could create a problem for committee chairs – such as Rep. Judy Clibborn, who has more than 30 members on the committee.
DeBolt did not say if his bill-hearings proposal would allow one bill to be heard in any committee per member of the House, or if it would require every member of a committee to get a bill heard.
UPDATED to add links to draft rules proposal in House Resolution 4608 and to the GOP’s list of rule changes it wants.