Washington Supermajority Vote Required in State Legislature to Raise Taxes, Initiative 1053 (2010)
The Washington Supermajority Vote Required in State Legislature to Raise Taxes Initiative, also known as Initiative 1053, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the People, where it was approved but later overturned. The measure required that "legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval."
Tim Eyman filed the language for the proposed initiative on January 11 with the Washington Secretary of State. He was joined by several co-sponsors, including Republican state senators Pam Roach and Janea Holmquist.
On July 2, supporters filed an estimated 400,000 signatures, far exceeding the 241,000 required minimum. Following a 3 percent signature check the Washington Secretary of State certified the proposed initiative for the 2010 ballot.
In late July 2011 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.
On May 30, 2012, King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller ruled that the two-thirds vote requirement for the State Legislature to raise revenue under I-1053 was unconstitutional. The issue will ultimately be decided by the Washington State Supreme Court.
Another supermajority requirement was challenged in 2008 by Sen. Lisa Brown. However, the state's high court ruled 9-0 to reject the challenge on technical grounds not related to the substance of the initiative.
State Supreme Court ruling
On February 28, 2013, the Washington Supreme Court issued its ruling on League of Educ. Voters v. State and, in doing so, declared legislation requiring a supermajority vote for tax legislation unconstitutional. The challenge was initially filed against Initiative 1053, but is part of a larger issue concerning similar initiatives beginning in 1993 with Initiative 601.
The court found such supermajority requirements to be in violation of Washington Constitution, Article II, Section 22, which states that no bill shall become law unless a majority of each chamber votes in favor of it. The court's ruling concludes with,
|“||Our holding today is not a judgment on the wisdom of requiring a supermajority for the passage of tax legislation. Such judgment is left to the legislative branch of our government. Should the people and the legislature still wish to require a supermajority vote for tax legislation, they must do so through constitutional amendment, not through legislation.||”|
|Washington Initiative 1053 (2010)|
|Overturned Case:League of Educ. Voters v. State 87425-5 (2013)|
Text of measure
Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 1053 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government.
According to the Office of Financial Management, "Initiative 1053 would have no direct fiscal impact on state and local revenues, costs, expenditures or indebtedness." The fiscal note stipulates that the initiative's impact is limited to changes in the state legislative process.
Washington I-960 appeared on the November 6, 2007 statewide ballot in Washington where it was approved with 51.24% of the vote. I-960 required that in order for the Washington State Legislature raise taxes, the legislature would have to approve any tax increases with a two-thirds supermajority vote or submit tax increase proposals to a statewide vote of the electorate. After a two-year threshold, only a simple majority is required to change or repeal an initiative. I-960 passed the two-year threshold and was temporarily suspended by the state legislature until July 2011. Eyman's proposed I-1053 would implement a 2/3rds requirement for all "legislative actions raising taxes."
Temporary Suspension of I-960
In January 2010 legislators said they planned to suspend I-960 "to make way for tax increases to help close a $2.6 billion state budget gap and stave off severe cuts to state services". On February 4, Margarita Prentice introduced Senate Bill 6843, which would suspend I-960. Should I-960 be suspended, tax increases would have required a simple majority, otherwise I-960 required a two-thirds approval by the legislature.
On February 17, 2010 the House approved the temporary suspension of I-960 after a 51-47 vote. Shortly thereafter the Senate voted 26-21 in favor of suspending I-960. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the 16-month suspension of some provisions of Initiative 960 on February 25, 2010 I-960 goes back into effect in July 2011.
Initiative 1053's goal, according to its supporters, was to reinstate the 2/3rds supermajority vote provisions of Initiative 960 , which voters approved in November 2007 with a 51.24% to 48.76% vote. I-960 was temporarily suspended by the state legislature in 2010.
Laws governing the initiative process in Washington allowed the state legislature to amend or repeal voter-passed initiatives with a 2/3rds vote within 2 years after passage. After the two year threshold, only a simple majority was needed to change or repeal an Initiative from the People. Since the two years were up, Eyman sponsored the new initiative in 2010 to implement a permanent 2/3rds supermajority requirement for all revenue raising measures in the future.
- On May 13, 2010 the Association of Washington Business’ (AWB) board of directors voted unanimously to support the proposed measure. "Taxes and increased costs on business are the top issue of concern for our members right now. This fall’s elections will undoubtedly be about the impact of taxes on families and businesses. Our board felt strongly enough about this measure to provide an early endorsement, in the hopes of raising the visibility of the issue among voters," said AWB President Don Brunell.
Reports in August 2010 revealed that supporters collected more than $700,000 in campaign contributions.. According to "StopGreed.org," opponents of the proposed measure, supporting corporations that made contributions to I-1053 included: BP Oil, ConocoPhillips Oil, Tesoro Oil, Shell Oil, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Weyerhauser, Sierra Pacific Industries, and Boise, as well as the Washington Restaurant Association and the Washington Farm Bureau. According to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission at the end of the campaign, Eyman's committee - Voters Want More Choices-Save the 2/3 vote for Tax Increases raised $887,970. A second PAC of corporate and business interest named Citizens for Responsible Spending, independently raised an additional $617,340 for the initiative.
The following is a list of the top five donors to the campaign in support of I-1053:.
|BP Corporation (IL)||$50,000|
|Washington State Farm Bureau||$50,000|
|Tesoro Companies (TX)||$40,000|
|JPMorgan Chase (TX)||$30,000|
|Conoco Phillips Co||$25,000|
Opponents argued that the proposed measure could allow for a small portion of the legislature to overthrow the majority. Additionally, opponents argued that the concept may be legally problematic because the Washington Constitution states that legislation must be approved by a simple majority vote.
- State senator Margarita Prentice, chair of the state senate's Ways and Means Committee, said he believed that I-1053 was an unconstitutional violation of Section 22 of Article II of the Washington State Constitution. Prentice also said he believed that 2007's I-960 was unconstitutional: "I-960 is clearly unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court punted. They said the Legislature can fix it and that's what we're doing."
- Gov. Christine Gregoire, who said in January 2010 with respect to I-1053's primary sponsor Tim Eyman: "For those like him who want to have a say constantly, come on down and run for election. Otherwise, leave it to us."
- Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, who earlier filed an unsuccessful lawsuit, Lisa Brown v. Brad Owens, to have I-960 declared unconstitutional. She said in January 2010 that I-960 had had "ludicrous" consequences and that the state legislature should suspend it in order to "stay true to the principle of majority rule."
- I-1053's opponents included Andrew Villeneuve of Permanent Defense and Steve Zemke of Taxpayers for Washington's Future.
- In an editorial Rep. Reuven Carlyle was featured in The Seattle Times on September 26, 2010. He said, "Our founders' vision of citizen-legislators — real people living real lives who engage in representative democracy — is central to Washington's populist history. This vision is built on the fundamental principle of majority rule: 50 percent plus one vote. Not 60 percent. Not two-thirds. The principle itself is now under attack by Tim Eyman's undemocratic Initiative 1053." Carlyle describes the measure was "undemocratic, unfair and unwise."
The following is a list of the top five donors to the campaign in opposition of I 1053:.
|Washington Federation of State Employees||$600,000|
|SEIU Healthcare 775 NW||$350,000|
|SEIU District 1199 NW||$100,000|
|SEIU Washington State Council||$100,000|
|Community Health Plan of Washington||$60,000|
Media editorial positions
- Main article: Endorsements of Washington ballot measures, 2010
- The Seattle Times supported the proposed measure. In an editorial, the board said, "A two-thirds requirement was in effect in 2009, and the Legislature did not raise taxes. But under the state constitution, the Legislature may suspend any initiative after two years by majority vote. In January they did, and raised taxes by more than $800 million. I-1053 would force the Legislature to find ways other than simply raising taxes to adjust to the state's economic realities."
- The Columbian supported I-1053. In an editorial, the board said, "...there is no doubt that (1) the Democrat-led Legislature this year rushed to suspend the two-thirds requirement of Initiative 960 of 2007; (2) revenue was raised this year by almost $800 million, largely through tax increases, and (3) little to no effort was made to reform government. Those three realities lead The Columbian to recommend a “Yes” vote on Initiative 1053."
- The Yakima Herald-Republic supported I-1053. "This time, legislative Democrats really deserve this initiative. They have repeatedly ignored calls for reforming a broken fiscal system and instead have imposed a patchwork of budget cutbacks and tax increases. Apparently, the voters need to push lawmakers along into finding long-term solutions. Consider this the push," said the editorial board.
- The Kitsap Sun supported the measure. "This is a re-re-rerun: three times, voters previously approved a similar measure, and three times, the Legislature overturned after two years. On the disgust-o-meter, it’s a toss-up between legislators’ unwillingness to budget with restraint instead of new taxes, and their habitual willingness to dump the will of the people. In terms of efficiency, it’d be simpler to boot out some legislators instead of re-running this initiative every two years. We strongly endorse I-1053," said the board.
- The Bellevue Reporter was in support. "Three times voters have approved a measure to require a 2/3 majority vote in order to raise taxes. Three times the Legislature has overturned the measure after two years and continued on its tax-and-spend ways. Once more voters must protect their pocketbooks – this time by voting 'Yes' on I-1053," said the board.
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was opposed to I-1053. In an editorial, the board said, "Do we want to bring endless legislative sessions and California-style gridlock to the Evergreen State? I-1053 is income for Eyman. It keeps Big Oil from cleaning up its act. It means votes of a minority in the Legislature count for more. I-1053 is bad for Washington. The forces that defend and advocate education, the environment and social services in this state should not let it pass without a fight."
- The Tacoma News Tribune was opposed to I-1053. In an editorial board, the board said, "I-1053 would give a minority party outsized power to block tax increases while also disavowing the painful choices forced by hits to existing revenues."
- The Olympian was opposed to I-1053. In an editorial board, the board said, "This initiative essentially gives a narrow minority — 17 senators or 34 House members, the difference of a simple majority and supermajority — veto authority on budget matters. That’s not right nor is it democratic."
- The Peninsula Gateway was opposed to I-1053. In an editorial board, the board said, "The idea to remember here is that I-960 was only temporarily suspended. It will be reinstated in July 2011, at the beginning of the new fiscal year."
- The Pacific Northwest Inlander was opposed to I-1053. In an editorial, the board said, "Forget about the legislator you sent to Olympia; under Eyman’s plan, it would only take 17 individuals to hold up progress for the state’s nearly 7 million citizens. That is nothing like the democracy we all hold so dear."
- The Tri-City Herald was opposed to I-1053. In an editorial board, the board said, "Essentially, passing this initiative nullifies a major belief of most Americans: Majority rules."
- The Stranger was opposed to the proposed initiative. The editorial board wrote, "...Eyman thinks that putting the legislature in a straitjacket by conning voters into passing I-1053 is a great way to cure what ails us. Want proof that he's full of shit? See California, which is a bankrupt, cracked-out...thanks to its two-thirds majority requirement. Vote no."
- Publicola opposed I-1053. "The extremist rule gives a minority the power to muck up the democratic process. (Would the proponents of I-1053 want this initiative to need two-thirds voter approval at the ballot in order to pass?)," said the editorial board.
Reports and analyses
OFM impact report
In 2010 the Washington Office of Financial Management released fiscal impact statements for initiatives scheduled to appear on the 2010 ballot, including Initiative 1053. Below is an excerpt:
Initiative 1053 would have no direct fiscal impact on state and local revenues, costs, expenditures or indebtedness.
Budget and Policy Center
The Washington State Budget and Policy Center released an analysis of several Washington 2010 initiatives, including I-1053. According to the study, I-1053 "would tie legislators’ hands as they deal with the continued effects of the recession." The initiative, they said, would do this by requiring a public referendum vote or a supermajority vote in the legislature along with a nonbinding public advisory vote. The requirements, according to the study, "would hamper public officials from making smart and rational decisions."
- See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
- A Washington Poll, conducted from May 3 – May 23, 2010, revealed that 60% of polled registered voters approve of requiring a 2/3 majority by the state legislature before approving tax increases. 24% said they were opposed. The poll surveyed approximately 1,252 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8.
- An August 26-August 29, 2010 poll of 650 likely voters by Survey USA showed that 55% of voters were certain they would support I-1107, 18% were certain they would oppose the measure, and 26% were undecided.
- A September 9-12, 2010 poll of 500 likely voters by Elway Poll revealed that 48% supported the proposed measure, while 27% were opposed and 25% were undecided.
- A September 30-October 3, 2010 poll of 639 likely voters by Survey USA revealed that 56% supported the proposed measure, while 19% were opposed and 25% were undecided. The poll was sponsored by KING-TV Seattle. The margin of error was +/- 3.9 percentage points.
- An October 7-10, 2010 poll of 400 likely voters by Elway showed that 49% supported the proposed measure, while 34% opposed it and 17% were undecided.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|May 3-23, 2010||Washington Poll||60%||24%||16%||1,252|
|August 26 - 29, 2010||Survey USA||55%||18%||26%||650|
|Sept. 9-12, 2010||Elway Poll||48%||27%||25%||500|
|Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2010||Survey USA||56%||19%||25%||639|
|Oct. 7-10, 2010||The Elway Poll||49%||34%||17%||400|
Path to the ballot
|Taxes on the ballot in 2010|
In order to place the proposed measure on the 2010 ballot organizers were required to collect a minimum of 241,153 valid signatures by July 2. According to reports I-1053 supporters expected to file signatures with the Washington Secretary of State on Friday, July 2.
On July 19 Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the measure following a 3 percent signature check. Of the 10,325 signature checked, 9,187 or 80% were valid and 1,138 were rejected. According to state officials, signatures were primarily rejected because they weren't registered voters. The total error rate was 19.62%.
- Washington Democrats challenge supermajority vote requirement
- Initiative petition deadlines arrive in Oregon and Washington
- Gov. Gregoire expected to officially suspend Washington's I-960
- The Associated Press,"Two-thirds supermajority tax vote sought in Wash.," October 12, 2010
- The News Tribune,"Ballot will shape state budget," August 30, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State's: From Our Corner,"Here’s your quick guide to WA ballot measures," August 10, 2010
- KPLU 88.5,"$8.2M Spent So Far To Get Initiatives On Wash. Ballot," July 15, 2010
- Inlander,"Taking Initiative," June 16, 2010
- The News Tribune,"Initiatives: Many are filed, but few are sane," June 1, 2010
- Herald Net,"Voters may take initiative in tax issues," April 11, 2010
- The Seattle Times,"'Will of the people' often subjected to tinkering," February 24, 2010
- Examiner,"Washington State Senate votes to suspend voter initiative," February 11, 2010
- Washington's: From Our Corner,"2010 initiative season underway," January 26, 2010
- The Columbian,"Yes on Initiative 1053: Measure corrects wrong committed by Legislature," September 19, 2010
- The Columbian,"No on Initiative 1053: Only special interests will gain from its passage," September 19, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State,"2010 Election Voters' Guide (Engrossed Substitute House Joint Resolution 4220)," accessed August 24, 2010 (dead link)
- Seattle Times, "Eyman will push to restore tax barrier," January 12, 2010
- Office of the Washington Secretary of State, "Another round of Eyman vs. Legislature begins," January 11, 2010
- The Associated Press,"Wash. campaign to limit taxes turns in signatures," July 2, 2010
- Washington's: From Our Corner,"`Direct democracy’ — A six-pack for 2010," July 2, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State's: From Our Corner,"Tim Eyman’s I-1053 earns ballot spot," July 19, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Eyman tax initiative qualifies for fall ballot," July 19, 2010
- The Spokesman-Review,"Anti-tax measure heads to court," July 26, 2011
- Associated Press,"Dems challenge WA initiative curbing tax increases," July 25, 2011
- Publicola,"Judge Hears Challenge to Eyman's Two-Thirds Rule," March 9, 2012
- Seattle Times, "," accessed April 17, 2012
- Tacoma News Tribune, "Eyman's Initiative 1053 Unconstitutional," accessed June 8, 2012
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Associated Press,"State Supreme Court strikes down two-thirds vote for tax hikes," February 28, 2013
- League of Educ. Voters v. State 87425-5 (2013)
- Washington Votes, Washington Senate Bill 6843
- Seattle Times, "Senate Democrats propose bill to make it easier to raise taxes," February 3, 2010
- Text of SB 6843
- The Associated Press,"Wash. Senate has final vote on suspension of I-960," February 22, 2010
- The Seattle Times,"State House approves I-960 suspension," February 18, 2010
- Associated Press,"Wash. Legislature OKS suspension of I-960," February 22, 2010
- The Spokesman-Review,"Gregoire signs I-960 suspension," February 24, 2010
- Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal,"Employers back measure requiring two-thirds vote on taxes," May 24, 2010
- Associated Press,"Wash. initiative campaigns draw big campaign cash," August 17, 2010
- StopGreed.org,"Visual Analysis - Initiative 1053," accessed September 8, 2010
- Washington PDC "Stop the Food and Beverage Tax Hikes-Campaign Detail," accessed October 19, 2010
- Associated Press,"Eyman, businesses backing two-thirds for tax votes," October 12, 2010
- NPI Advocate, "Democratic legislators begin courageous and noble effort to neutralize Tim Eyman's I-960," February 4th, 2010
- Tri-City Herald, "Holmquist joins Eyman on initiative over tax rule," January 12, 2010
- The Seattle Times,"Eyman's Initiative 1053 undermines the principle of majority rule," September 26, 2010
- Confirmed with Washington PDC Officials on 10-19-2010
- Washington PDC "No on I-1053 Committee-Campaign Detail," accessed October 19, 2010
- The Seattle Times,"Reset 2010: Statewide initiatives tackle taxes, taxes and drink," June 18, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Times endorses Eyman initiative, opposes income tax on rich," June 21, 2010
- The Columbian,"In Our View: ‘Yes’ on I-1053," September 19, 2010
- The Yakima Herald-Republic,"On tax initiatives, keep your money and keep it away from lawmakers," September 27, 2010 (dead link)
- Kitsap Sun,"OUR VIEW | Sorting Out the Ballot Issues," October 21, 2010
- Bellevue Reporter,"Vote 'Yes' on I-1053, to control taxes | editorial," October 21, 2010
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Seattlepi.com: Avoid chaos and vote 'no' on I-1053 (Eyman tax initiative)," September 8, 2010
- "The News Tribune,""No to Initiative 1053 and tying legislators' hands," September 23, 2010
- "The Olympian,""Initiative would give undemocratic veto power over budget," September 24, 2010
- "The Peninsula Gateway,""Initiative 1053: More gridlock with lawmakers," September 23, 2010
- "The Spokane Inlander,""Decision Time," October 6, 2010
- "The Tri-City Herald,""2/3 majority to raise taxes means a Legislature in knots," October 11, 2010
- The Stranger,"VOTE, BABY, VOTE!," October 13, 2010
- Publicola,"PubliCola Picks for the Nov. 2 Election," October 14, 2010
- Othello Outlook,"Ballot measures could have significant impacts on state - Washington State Budget and Policy Center," August 24, 2010
- Washington State Budget and Policy Center,"New Policy Brief: 2010 Initiatives Could Impact Public Services," July 21, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"New state poll: Murray runs weak, income tax strong," May 24, 2010
- The Washington Poll, "Issues and Opinions May 2010," May 24, 2010
- Survey USA, "Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #17011" August 30, 2010
- PubliCola,"SurveyUSA Poll Could Spell Bad News for Progressive Coalition," August 31, 2010
- FireDogLake,"WA Ballot Measures Polling Under 50% – So Much for That Anti-Tax, Less Government Wave," September 16, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Skeptical public? All initiatives under 50 percent in poll," September 15, 2010
- The Spokesman Review,"Initiative support tepid in poll," September 20, 2010
- SurveyUSA,"10 Days Until WA Ballots Mailed, New Support for Initiative 1107, Steady Support for 1053, Faltering Support for Referendum 52," October 4, 2010
- Publicola,"Poll: Candy Tax Repeal Gains Ground, Four Initiatives Losing" October 11, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Eyman, second liquor measure ready to turn in signatures," June 28, 2010
- The Spokesman Review,"I-1053 turn-in: 333,000-plus signatures," July 2, 2010
- The Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader,"Initiative 1107 aims to repeal food and beverage tax with Nov. ballot," July 13, 2010
- Associated Press,"Eyman initiative on tax hike votes to make ballot," July 19, 2010
- Publicola,"Eyman Initiative Makes the Ballot," July 19, 2010
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