Constitutional amendment to be proposed for tax initiative
A state senator wants to change the state constitution to say the Legislature must have a two-thirds supermajority in order to raise taxes.
The (Vancouver) Columbian
State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, says he will introduce a bill that would, through a constitutional amendment, protect the spirit of the tax initiative that voters supported in the fall.
In the Nov. 6 general election, Initiative 1185, which requires all tax increases passed in the Legislature be approved by a two-thirds supermajority rather than a simple majority, was approved with nearly 64 percent of the vote.
Under state law, initiatives can be overturned in the Legislature after two years.
Putting the two-thirds rule in the Washington Constitution means it would be more difficult for state lawmakers to overturn it, Benton said. The constitution can be changed only through a vote of the people.
"By now, if you look at the latest election results, it's safe to say the two-thirds tax-vote rule has become a nonpartisan issue," Benton said in a statement. "The Legislature can ignore that, or it can put an amendment on next November's ballot and let the people have their say."
In 1993, 1998, 2007, and 2010 voters passed supermajority initiatives similar to I-1185.
Nonetheless, state lawmakers have suspended the supermajority rule to pass tax increases, Benton said.
The supermajority rule also is facing a legal challenge in the state Supreme Court, which has yet to decide on whether it is constitutional. Passing an amendment to the constitution would settle that debate.
Benton is second in command among Senate Republicans.