A series of proposals to lock Washington’s two-thirds tax-vote law into the state Constitution got a hearing in a Senate committee this morning. Advocates for better funding of public schools, universities and health programs were squared off against business groups and anti-tax advocates.
You can watch TVW’s full coverage of the hearing here, starting at about the 1:07:40 mark.
None of the proposals is expected to pass the Legislature this year. Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, told the Association of Washington Business on Wednesday there is not enough support – two-thirds of House members – to put the concept on the ballot and he called it “a really bad way to conduct business,” according to AWB.
But Sen. Pam Roach, the Auburn Republican who chairs the Senate Government Operations Committee, said voters have strongly supported initiatives five times that call for a two-thirds vote. The three proposals ask voters to make the change permanent by putting it into the Constitution – and she read off the popular support a two-thirds vote has had in the districts of most committee members.
The proposals come as the state Supreme Court is poised to rule on a lawsuit by Democratic lawmakers who see the two-thirds requirement imposed by initiative as an unconstitutional infringement of the Legislature’s powers.
Roach is sponsor of two measures and Republican Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver sponsored the third. The three measures are Senate Joint Resolution 8200, SJR 8204 and SJR 8205. The last bill differs in requiring a majority vote of the Legislature to approve an increase in any fee.
The Supreme Court case deals with Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053, adopted by voters in 2010, which a lower court has ruled is unconstitutional. The current Legislature is bound by I-1185, which voters approved by a 64 percent vote last November – and all but a handful of Seattle legislative districts favored it.