Tag Archives: Vote No 1053

Futurewise Urges a No Vote on Initiative 1053

Initiative 1053 is an initiative sponsored by Tim Eyman and backed by  corporate funding from oil companies like BP and Conoco Phillips and banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and US Bank. It is special interest legislation trying to give a minority of 1/3 of the State Legislators supporting these corporate interests veto power over the majority of Legislators. It is undemocratic and unconstitutional. Yet that doesn’t stop these special interests from trying to pull a fast one on Washington voters.

Many statewide organizations are opposing Initiative 1053. Futurewise has joined the Coalition against Initiative 1053 as have other environmental groups like the Washington Conservation Voters and the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club. Futurewise describes itself as  “a statewide public interest group working to promote healthy communities and cities while protecting farmland, forests and shorelines today and for future generations.” It recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of working.

Futurewise provides the following reason for their opposition to Initiative 1053:

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 would institute minority rule in Washington state, empowering one-third (plus one) of the members of either the state House or Senate to prevent the majority from closing tax loopholes or raising new revenues.  BP, Conoco Philips, and Tesoro are some of the top funders behind I-1053. For the past two years, the statewide Environmental Community of which Futurewise is a member, has prioritized the Clean Water Act of 2010 – a $100 million investment in clean water infrastructure through either a fee or tax on polluters. If I-1053 passes, it will be even more difficult to make polluters like petroleum companies pay to clean up their messes. Futurewise encourages you to Vote NO I-1053.

I think Futurewise is understating the impact of I-1053 on our ability to enact legislation requiring polluters to pay for cleaning up waste hazards caused by the use of their products. The Legislature earlier this year was unable to pass legislation by a simple majority to require polluters like the oil companies to pay for cleaning up stormwater runoff caused by oil and other toxic chemicals.  Initiative 1053 would allow 1/3 of the members of either the House or the Senate to block such legislation. I think it would make it not just more difficult but almost impossible to pass such legislation under these circumstances.

Futurewise is also urging a No vote on Initiative 1107 pushed by the beverage industry to repeal taxes on pop and candy, They are urging a YES vote on Referendum 52 to fund rehabbing schools for energy efficiency and a YES vote on  Initiative 1098 for raising revenues for education and health care by taxing the top 1.2% of taxpayers on their income.

Madison and Hamilton Would Have Voted NO on I-1053

Two of the founders of our country, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, would have voted No on Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 if they were alive today.  They spelled out their reasoning in The Federalist Papers in which they discussed the wisdom and necessity of majority rules for voting, instead of requiring a supermajority vote. Their arguments, which helped to frame the majority voting provisions in the US Constitution, are still as relevant today as when they were first written.

Initiative 1053 is an attempt to rewrite the rules by which Washington State Legislators make their decisions and vote. Article II, Section 22 of the Washington State Constitution says the Washington State Legislature shall make decisions by a majority vote. Eyman wants to change this to require that a 2/3 vote is needed by both Houses of the Legislature to pass revenue measures to fund state services or to repeal special interest tax exemptions that only benefit large corporations.

James Madison in The Federalist Papers No 58 had this to say about requiring supermajority votes:

It has been said that more than a majority ought to have been required for a quorum; and in particular cases, if not in all, more than a majority of a quorum for a decision. That some advantages might have resulted from such a precaution, cannot be denied. It might have been an additional shield to some particular interests, and another obstacle generally to hasty and partial measures. But these considerations are outweighed by the inconveniences in the opposite scale. In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority. Were the defensive privilege limited to particular cases, an interested minority might take advantage of it to screen themselves from equitable sacrifices to the general weal, or, in particular emergencies, to extort unreasonable indulgences.

Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers No 22 likewise stated:

what at first sight may seem a remedy, is, in reality, a poison. To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser. …

This is one of those refinements which, in practice, has an effect the reverse of what is expected from it in theory. The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority. …

If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, … Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good. And yet, in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: for upon some occasions things will not admit of accommodation; and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended, or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savor of weakness, sometimes border upon anarchy.

These arguments for majority votes still ring true today. Washington State voters should vote NO on Initiative 1053 and uphold our State Constitution.