Washington Supermajority Vote Required in State Legislature to Raise Taxes, Initiative 1053 (2010)

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Washington Supermajority Vote Required in State Legislature to Raise Taxes, Initiative 1053 appeared on the November 2, 2010 general election ballot in the State of Washington as an Initiative to the People where it was approved.

I-1053 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."[1][2]

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.[3]

Eyman filing the "Save the 2/3rds vote for Tax Increase" initiative.
Photo credit: Office of the Washington Secretary of State

On July 2, supporters filed an estimated 400,000 signatures, far exceeding the 241,000 required minimum.[4][5] Following a 3 percent signature check the Washington Secretary of State certified the proposed initiative for the 2010 ballot.[6][7]


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.[8] The suit was filed in King County Superior Court with League of Education Voters 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.[8]

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.[8]

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.[8]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Initiative 1053 (Supermajority Vote for Taxes)
Result Votes Percentage
Approveda Yes 1,571,655 63.75%
No 895,833 36.25%
Total votes 2,471,488 100.00%
Voter turnout  %

Official results via Washington Secretary of State

Text of measure


According to the Washington Secretary of State, the ballot title read:[1]

Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 1053 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government.
Concise Description: This measure would restate existing statutory requirements 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.
Should this measure be enacted into law?: Yes [ ] No [ ]

Fiscal note

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.[1]


Initiative 960

See also: Washington Initiative 960 (2007)

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."[1]

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"[2]. On February 4, Margarita Prentice introduced Senate Bill 6843, which would suspend I-960.[9],[10][11] Should I-960 be suspended, tax increases would have required a simple majority, otherwise I-960 required a two-thirds approval by the legislature.[12]

On February 17, 2010 the House approved the temporary suspension of I-960 after a 51-47 vote.[13] Shortly thereafter the Senate voted 26-21 in favor of suspending I-960.[14][15] Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the 16-month suspension of some provisions of Initiative 960 on February 25, 2010[16] 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.[3]

  • 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.[17]


Reports in August 2010 revealed that supporters collected an more than $700,000 in campaign contributions.[18] 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.[19]

The following is a list of the top five donors to the campaign in support of I-1053:[20].

Contributor Amount
BP Corporation (IL) $50,000
Washington State Farm Bureau $50,000
Tesoro Companies (TX) $40,000
JPMorgan Chase (TX) $30,000
Green Diamond Resource $20,000


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.[21]

  • 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."[2]
  • 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."[2]
  • 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."[24]


The No on I-1053 Committee was first formed in August of 2010[25]. The committee has raised more than $1,579,760.82 as of October 19, 2010[26].

The following is a list of the top five donors to the campaign in opposition of I 1053:[26].

Contributor Amount
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

Policy analysis

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."[27][28]

The report can be read here.

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."[29][30]
  • 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."[31]
  • 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.[32]
  • 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.[33]
  • 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.[34]


  • 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."[35]
  • 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."[36]
  • 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."[37]
  • 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."[38]
  • 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."[39]
  • 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."[40]
  • 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."[41]
  • 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.[42]


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.[43][44]
  • 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. [45][46]
  • 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.[47][48][49]
  • 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.[50]
  • 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.[51]

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

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

See also: Washington signature requirements and 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs
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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.[52]

On July 2 supporters filed an estimated 400,000 signatures, far exceeding the 241,000 required minimum.[53][54]

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%.[55][56]

See also

Suggest a link

Related measures

Approveda Washington Legislative Supermajority or Voter Approval Required for Tax Increase, Initiative 960 (2007)


External links

Campaign links

Additional reading



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Washington Secretary of State,"2010 Election Voters' Guide (Engrossed Substitute House Joint Resolution 4220)," retrieved August 24, 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Seattle Times, "Eyman will push to restore tax barrier", January 12, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 Office of the Washington Secretary of State, "Another round of Eyman vs. Legislature begins", January 11, 2010
  4. The Associated Press,"Wash. campaign to limit taxes turns in signatures," July 2, 2010
  5. Washington's: From Our Corner,"`Direct democracy’ — A six-pack for 2010," July 2, 2010
  6. Washington Secretary of State's: From Our Corner,"Tim Eyman’s I-1053 earns ballot spot," July 19, 2010
  7. Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Eyman tax initiative qualifies for fall ballot," July 19, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 The Spokesman-Review,"Anti-tax measure heads to court," July 26, 2011
  9. Washington Votes, Washington Senate Bill 6843
  10. Seattle Times, "Senate Democrats propose bill to make it easier to raise taxes", February 3, 2010
  11. Text of SB 6843
  12. The Associated Press,"Wash. Senate has final vote on suspension of I-960," February 22, 2010
  13. The Seattle Times,"State House approves I-960 suspension," February 18, 2010
  14. Associated Press,"Wash. Legislature OKS suspension of I-960," February 22, 2010
  15. time/ The Spokesman-Review,"State senate approves I-960 suspension for the third time," February 22, 2010
  16. The Spokesman-Review,"Gregoire signs I-960 suspension," February 24, 2010
  17. Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal,"Employers back measure requiring two-thirds vote on taxes," May 24, 2010
  18. Associated Press,"Wash. initiative campaigns draw big campaign cash," August 17, 2010
  19. StopGreed.org,"Visual Analysis - Initiative 1053," retrieved September 8, 2010
  20. Washington PDC "Stop the Food and Beverage Tax Hikes-Campaign Detail", Retrieved October 19, 2010
  21. Associated Press,"Eyman, businesses backing two-thirds for tax votes," October 12, 2010
  22. NPI Advocate, "Democratic legislators begin courageous and noble effort to neutralize Tim Eyman's I-960", February 4th, 2010
  23. Tri-City Herald, "Holmquist joins Eyman on initiative over tax rule", January 12, 2010
  24. The Seattle Times,"Eyman's Initiative 1053 undermines the principle of majority rule," September 26, 2010
  25. [Confirmed with Washington PDC Officials on 10-19-2010]
  26. 26.0 26.1 Washington PDC "No on I-1053 Committee-Campaign Detail", Retrieved October 19, 2010
  27. Othello Outlook,"Ballot measures could have significant impacts on state - Washington State Budget and Policy Center," August 24, 2010
  28. Washington State Budget and Policy Center,"New Policy Brief: 2010 Initiatives Could Impact Public Services," July 21, 2010
  29. The Seattle Times,"Reset 2010: Statewide initiatives tackle taxes, taxes and drink," June 18, 2010
  30. Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Times endorses Eyman initiative, opposes income tax on rich," June 21, 2010
  31. The Columbian,"In Our View: ‘Yes’ on I-1053," September 19, 2010
  32. The Yakima Herald-Republic,"On tax initiatives, keep your money and keep it away from lawmakers," September 27, 2010
  33. Kitsap Sun,"OUR VIEW | Sorting Out the Ballot Issues," October 21, 2010
  34. Bellevue Reporter,"Vote 'Yes' on I-1053, to control taxes | editorial," October 21, 2010
  35. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Seattlepi.com: Avoid chaos and vote 'no' on I-1053 (Eyman tax initiative)," September 8, 2010
  36. "The News Tribune","No to Initiative 1053 and tying legislators' hands," September 23, 2010
  37. "The Olympian","Initiative would give undemocratic veto power over budget," September 24, 2010
  38. "The Peninsula Gateway","Initiative 1053: More gridlock with lawmakers," September 23, 2010
  39. "The Spokane Inlander","Decision Time," October 6, 2010
  40. "The Tri-City Herald","2/3 majority to raise taxes means a Legislature in knots," October 11, 2010
  41. The Stranger,"VOTE, BABY, VOTE!," October 13, 2010
  42. Publicola,"PubliCola Picks for the Nov. 2 Election," October 14, 2010
  43. Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"New state poll: Murray runs weak, income tax strong," May 24, 2010
  44. The Washington Poll, "Issues and Opinions May 2010," May 24, 2010
  45. Survey USA, "Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #17011" August 30, 2010
  46. PubliCola,"SurveyUSA Poll Could Spell Bad News for Progressive Coalition," August 31, 2010
  47. FireDogLake,"WA Ballot Measures Polling Under 50% – So Much for That Anti-Tax, Less Government Wave," September 16, 2010
  48. Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Skeptical public? All initiatives under 50 percent in poll," September 15, 2010
  49. The Spokesman Review,"Initiative support tepid in poll," September 20, 2010
  50. SurveyUSA,"10 Days Until WA Ballots Mailed, New Support for Initiative 1107, Steady Support for 1053, Faltering Support for Referendum 52," October 4, 2010
  51. Publicola,"Poll: Candy Tax Repeal Gains Ground, Four Initiatives Losing" October 11, 2010
  52. Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Eyman, second liquor measure ready to turn in signatures," June 28, 2010
  53. The Spokesman Review,"I-1053 turn-in: 333,000-plus signatures," July 2, 2010
  54. The Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader,"Initiative 1107 aims to repeal food and beverage tax with Nov. ballot," July 13, 2010
  55. Associated Press,"Eyman initiative on tax hike votes to make ballot," July 19, 2010
  56. Publicola,"Eyman Initiative Makes the Ballot," July 19, 2010