Washington Democrats challenge supermajority vote requirement

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July 27, 2011

Washington

By Bailey Ludlam

OLYMPIA, Washington: Earlier this week Washington House Democrats filed a lawsuit arguing that the supermajority vote required for tax increases is an unconstitutional limit on legislative authority.[1] The suit was filed in King County Superior Court with League of Education Voters and he Washington Education Association listed among the plaintiffs.[2]

Specifically, the lawsuit centers around House Bill 2078. The bill called for "closing a tax preference on interest received by large banks on some mortgages and using the money for reducing class sizes in kindergarten through third-grade." The bill was approved by the House (52-42) however, the bill did not reach the two-thirds supermajority requirement in order to proceed to the Senate. The filed lawsuit argues that the bill should have been sent to the Senate because the House had a majority vote in favor of the bill, as required by the Washington Constitution.[1]

The requirement for passing bills cannot be overridden by an initiative, argues the lawsuit. In order to amend the constitutional majority vote requirement, a constitutional amendment would be needed.[1]

In 2007 Initiative 960 was approved following a 51.24% vote. In 2010, the initiative's two-year threshold was up. However, Tim Eyman circulated and qualified Initiative 1053 for the 2010 ballot. The measure was approved by a 63.75% vote.

The supermajority requirement was also challenged in 2008 by Sen. Lisa Brown. However, the state's high court ruled 9-0 to reject the challenge.[1]

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