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May 30, 2012 at 10:48 AM

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Judge rules two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes is unconstitutional

Updated at 12:15 p.m.

King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller has ruled the voter-approved requirement that two-thirds of the Legislature approve tax increases is unconstitutional.

The judge's order issued Wednesday morning says the "supermajority vote requirement violates the simple majority provision" of the state Constitution.

The lawsuit was filed last year by two statewide education groups and a dozen Democratic state lawmakers seeking to overturn the two-thirds requirement.

"We won on pretty much every issue," said Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, a plaintiff in the case who is also an attorney. "All of the procedural things that have been the death of previous challenges, we won on every point. On the merits of the case itself, he agreed with all of our arguments."

State Attorney General Rob McKenna sent out a statement saying "we will appeal this decision because we believe these voter-enacted laws are constitutional, and we are determined to defend the will of the voters, just as we defend laws passed by the Legislature."

McKenna is the Republican candidate for governor, running against Democratic challenger Jay Inslee.

The lawsuit argued the supermajority requirement unconstitutionally prevents lawmakers from adequately funding schools and other essential public services.

Targeted by the lawsuit is Initiative 1053, the latest of four voter-approved measures since 1993 that have limited the Legislature's ability to raise taxes. I-1053 requires a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate. Sponsored by Tim Eyman, I-1053 was approved by 64 percent of voters in 2010.


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