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Senate GOP fights 2/3rds ruling; Tim Eyman, not so much

The Senate GOP mounts one last appeal for the two-thirds majority tax increase requirement. Tim Eyman, on the other hand, is less than his usually ebullient self.
Tim Eyman reacts to a state Supreme Court ruling

Tim Eyman reacts to a state Supreme Court ruling

Lawmakers continue to huddle behind closed doors at the capitol.

Lawmakers continue to huddle behind closed doors at the capitol. MathTeacherGuy/Flickr

Senate Republicans wasted no time responding to the Supreme Court's ruling against a required two-thirds majority for tax hikes Thursday. The Senate's Republican-heavy coalition called a same-day hearing for a pair of bills that would put a two-thirds majority back before Washington voters in the fall as a constitutional amendment. The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted 13-10 Thursday to put one of the bills, sponsored by Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, to a full Senate vote.

"All 25 [majority alliance senators] have pledged to support a two-thirds constitutional amendment," Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, said before the hearing.

The Democrats unsuccessfully tried to amend Roach's bill to require all bills to tally a two-thirds majority to pass. Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, said since the Republicans believe voters don't trust the Legislature with taxes, then that mistrust should be honored in all legislation. "This is a put-up-or-shut-up amendment," Hatfield said.

Hatfield's amendment died along party lines.

The Republicans would need a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and House to take a proposed constitutional amendment to a public ballot. That is unlikely, since Democrats have a strong majority in the House and control 49 percent of the Senate. Eight minority Democrats would have to switch sides for the majority coalition to get a two-thirds majority.

Roach talked about using the results of last November's vote on I-1053 to pressure Democrats to vote for the measure. The business-leaning Washington Policy Center has released a breakdown of I-1053 results in each of the 49 legislative districts earlier this month. Washingtonians approved the now-unconstitutional I-1053 by 64 percent. The initiative carried 44 of the state's 49 districts, losing only in central Seattle. Roach wants Republicans to cajole Democrats one-by-one with the I-1053 results from their individual districts, arguing they are out of touch with their voters. "Will you stand for what your constituents want?" asked Amber Carter, a lobbyist for the Association of Washington Business.

If the Democratic legislators hold fast, Roach and Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said those stances should be used as campaign issues in the next elections. "This will soften up a few Democrats," Roach said.

Following Roach's playbook, Tom announced that only three of the 10 Ways and Means Committee members who voted against the bills came from districts that voted against I-1053: Sens Ed Murray, Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Sharon Nelson, all Seattle Democrats.

Murray and Kohl-Welles argued that the Legislature exists as part of the system of checks and balances, with a right to oppose the I-1053 votes. Murray quoted part of the Supreme Court ruling about  combating "the tyranny of the minority" as part of those checks and balances. "You are voting against a core principle that this nation was founded upon," he said.

"We have our hands tied when we're limited in any way to come up with the best solutions for the problems before us," Kohl-Welles said.

The mastermind of I-1053 and four previous successful public ballots for a supermajority on taxes is Tim Eyman, a professional conservative initiative guru. "In light of today's ruling, all eyes now move to the Legislature and what they're going to do," he said in a written statement.

In an appearance Thursday at the state Capitol, the normally brash Eyman declined to answer several questions about his personal feelings about the Supreme Court ruling, saying he is working on becoming more restrained.

As Eyman began to leave the Capitol steps, Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, challenged Eyman to say what waste could be cut from the state budget to enact it without new taxes. Cutting wastes and programs is the usual advice given by Olympia's anti-new-tax crowd. Eyman walked away without answering.

Kline called after Eyman: "Where is that fraud, waste and abuse? Where is that fraud? Can't tell? I guess not."


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Mar 1, 7:35 a.m. Inappropriate

The next step is to change our initiative law. The initiative process in this state is one of the worst in the country--and so is our tax system. Signatures are essentially bought by people with a ton of money, and they can spend a ton of money promoting the initiative once it has the signatures. We saw it with the charter issue and we saw it with this Eyman anti-tax idiocy.

Too many of the people who vote for these initiatives don't look under the hood. We live in a republic, not a plebiscitary democracy, and in a society as complex as ours, that's a good thing--if we let it work. It's tough enough to govern, and we cannot tie the hands of the representatives we elect. We hire them to look under the hood and to think through all the consequences. And we can fire them if we think they don't do their job.

Initiatives should be rare and meet a far more rigorous test than the one they have now. They are not a solution to dysfunctional government. With the polarized process we have now, they just make an admittedly bad situation even worse.

Posted Fri, Mar 1, 7:55 a.m. Inappropriate

"Too many of the people who vote for these initiatives don't look under the hood."

It's almost as if they have to pass it to know what's in it. Hey! Where have I heard that before?

BlueLight

Posted Fri, Mar 1, 9:26 a.m. Inappropriate

Jack Whelan is on point the initiative power created in the state constitution is a mess. No one can effectively govern when big business such as Costco promote initiatives to give their business a leg up over the competition. Meanwhile, Eyman and his followers are busy trying to destroy the revenue sources for government. A state which cannot create and maintain infrastructure, or properly fund K - 12 and higher education will slip into economic ruin in both the public and private sector. I suspect those who drafted the state constitution understood what they were doing. It is not an accident that the constitution provides for a simple majority to enact legislation. The Senate Republicans are displaying a very cynical attitude in proposing a 2/3's vote on new revenue measures. Should the amendment be adopted they will have the perfect cover for never having to be a responsible legislator. When the true economic disaster occurs they will rue the day they thought they were so clever.

Let us not forget these same people tell us we are not friendly to business because the state over regulates. When not if the big earthquake comes and we find out the building codes, and land use regulations are not as good as we thought they were, how will the legislature react if we have tied their hands with a 2/3's requirement. Now imagine this requirement has been imposed on all legislation by those who apparently hate government and those who are greedy and care not for the good of the community as a whole..

bartlet

Posted Fri, Mar 1, 10:52 a.m. Inappropriate

The state has plenty of revenue sources. It has plenty of revenue. It does not, however, have any discipline in how it spends that money. If you want to find out what our wise solons feel is more important than infrastructure or K-12 education, peruse washingtonvotes.org any day during the legislative session. They are drowning us in a sea of our own money.

dbreneman

Posted Fri, Mar 1, 8:50 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm surprised no one ever calls out the mechanics of I-man's scam. Writing an initiative that can pass constitutional muster is not an impossible task for a competent lawyer. And I-man, after many rewarding years in the initiative industry, is surely rich enough to hire talented legal help. So why do his initiatives continue, year after year, to be invalidated by Washington's courts?

The answer is obvious. If his initiatives are all upheld by the courts, I-man will be soon out of business. When the courts reject them, the game goes on. The failed and flawed initatives are recycled in the following election, with I-man's fundraising efforts boosted by his rabid mad dog right-wing acolytes whose keen noses have sniffed out the perfidy of the egg-headed liberal judges. The treachery of a court loss fuels the cycle.

The I-man initiatives fail the court tests because they are designed that way. I'm amazed that he has been able to pull this off for, what, decades now. It sure must beat selling frat-boy jewelry on the internet.

woofer

Posted Sat, Mar 2, 4:55 a.m. Inappropriate

hey bartlet and woofer, why don't you step up to the plate and give the bureaucrats your money since you don't have a problem with our government holding us hostage everytime we turn around.

Eyman and his followers are busy trying to destroy the revenue sources for government? Revenue for government is a tax to me and you.

If you guys feel eyman is the problem then just fork over enough money to government so the rest of us aren't homeless. I would bet the bank that government would bankrupt you in less than a year, and you will love it.

salmonjim

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