Washington Democrats challenge supermajority vote requirement
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. The suit was filed in King County Superior Court with League of Education Voters and he Washington Education Association listed among the plaintiffs.
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.
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.
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.