Tag Archives: Washington State Legislature

Supermajority Vote Allows for Minority Interests to Trump Majority

The following letter to the editor of the Seattle Times was posted on their website yesterday. I wrote the letter in response to their editorial on Sunday entitled, “State lawmakers should listen to voters on I-1185 and the two-thirds tax law.” The Washington State Supreme Court ruled on February 28, 2013 that requiring a supermajority vote of the Legislature to raise revenue or pass any other ordinary legislation was unconstitutional. The Seattle Times choose to editorialize on the issue against the decision of the Washington State Supreme Court. My response:

The Seattle Times in its recent editorial errs in it’s judgment that supermajority votes are somehow in the best interests of our state. Logic says that to require a supermajority vote to pass legislation means that the minority interest would trump the majority interest. Under Initiative 1185, if 17 State Senators out of 49 Senators said no to a revenue bill to fund education, they would prevail over any majority vote by both the state Senate and House.
As the state Supreme Court noted, “ … a supermajority requirement for ordinary legislation would allow special interests to control resulting legislation. While the current Supermajority Requirement applies only to tax increases, if carried to its logical conclusion, the State’s argument could allow all legislation to be conditioned on a supermajority vote. In other words, under the State’s reasoning, a simple majority of the people or the Legislature could require particular bills to receive 90 percent approval rather than just a two-thirds approval, thus essentially ensuring that those types of bills would never pass. Such a result is antithetical to the notion of a functioning government and should be rejected as such.”

The issue here is actually not just a tax issue but but an issue of how our State legislature functions and whether or not minority interests can impose roadblocks to the majority of Legislators doing their jobs. It is absurd that this supermajority requirement has hindered the Legislators from doing their job for the larger part of 20 years. Ever since voters passed I-601 by a small margin of 51% to 49% the problem has persisted, illustrating how by a simple majority vote could give a minority of 1/3 of the legislators in one House of the Legislature veto power over the majority.

As pointed out by the Washington State Supreme Court in their opinion:

“…allowing a supermajority requirement for ordinary legislation alters our system of government. The framers of the United States Constitution expressed as much in the Federalist papers:
If a pertinacious minority can controul 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 over-rule that of the greater.
THE FEDERALIST NO. 22, at 141 (Alexander Hamilton) (Jacob E. Cooke ed., 1961);
accord THE FEDERALIST No. 58 (James Madison).”

Four Bad Bills on Election Issues Before the Washington State Legislature

Tell Your Washington State Legislators What You Think!

The four bills listed below are before the Washington State Legislature and need to be opposed. Urge your Legislators not to support these bills.

Oppose SB 5291 – “modifies provisions relating to signing and receipt of ballots”

This bill says that voters must “return or mail the ballot to the county auditor so that the ballot is received by the county auditor no later than 8 PM the day of the election or primary.”

This bill eliminates the ability to mail ballots and have them postmarked on Election Day and still count. With the upcoming elimination of Saturday mail it means ballots will have to be mailed Thursday or Friday with no guarantee they will reach the Elections dept on Tuesday.

Tell your legislators you want to be able to mail your ballots up to and including Election Day and still have them count.

Oppose SB 5277 – “reducing costs and inefficiencies in elections”

This bill will eliminate the printing of the text of ballot measures in the Voter’s Pamphlet. You would have to look them up on the internet rather than having them available to read as you fill out the ballot. Not everyone has easy access to a computer and this bill will make it harder to understand what it is you’re being asked to vote on.

Tell your Legislators not to eliminate printing the text of initiatives and referendum in the Voter’s Pamphlet.

Oppose House Joint Resolutions 4201 and 4206 – These two resolutions propose that the Legislature approve and submit to the voters a constitutional amendment requiring that the majority vote now in the Washington State Constitution that is needed to raise revenue be raised to a 2/3 voting requirement by both Houses, effectively giving a 1/3 minority of State legislators veto power over any increases in revenue to fund state services like educating our kids or providing for health care. A 2/3 vote would also be needed to repeal any tax loophole while allowing a simple majority to create new loopholes.

Tell your Legislators you oppose turning the power of the Legislature to fund state services like educating our children over to a 1/3 minority of Legislators. Leave the Washington State Constitution as it is.  It does not need to be changed to benefit special interests and corporations.

Your Legislators can be sent e-mails at www.leg.wa.gov or you can call their offices directly and leave a message.  Or you can call the toll free hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

Turncoat Democrats Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon Turn State Senate over to Republicans

On Monday two Washington State Senators elected as Democrats  became Turncoats and turned control of the Washington State Senate over to the elected Republican minority. So much for party loyalty and adhering to the supposed principles and beliefs they ran on. The print edition of the Seattle Times headline says it all – “Senate power shifts into GOP hands“.  The two Democrats who bolted the Democratic Party are Rodney Tom of the 48th LD in Medina and Tim Sheldon from Mason County.

Yesterday culminated a month long process that was already in play and not a surprise. Calling themselves the Majority Coalition Caucus is a joke.  The GOP heavy “coalition” is comprised of the 23 Senators actually elected as Republicans and two Senators elected as Democrats but who have now joined with the Republicans to run the Senate.  This shift gave the new “majority” a 25/24 vote margin and the ability to take over.

Rodney Tom was originally a Republican who switched it appears now mostly in name only to the Democrats when he ran last time. Tom and Sheldon both benefited heavily personally in this power switch with Tom becoming the new “majority” leader and Sheldon the president pro tempore. Both Tom and Sheldon were involved in a similar power shift at the end of last year’s budget process in the Legislature.

Rodney Tom is up for election in two years and the Democrats in the 48th LD last week passed a resolution condemning Tom for his actions:

The following resolution was adopted by the 48th Legislative District Democrats by a vote of 30-8, including Senator Tom’s vote against.

–Phil Kouse, 2013-2014 Chair

State Senate Leadership Rightfully Belongs
to the Elected Democratic Majority

Whereas

the 48th District Democrats, according to our bylaws, exist “to contribute to the growth, development and influence of the Democratic Party” and to “support … those candidates who, by their records and reputations, are in general agreement with the [party] platform;” and

Whereas

State Senator Rodney Tom was elected as a Democrat in 2006 and 2010 with the endorsement of, and financial and volunteer support from, the 48th District Democrats and other Democratic organizations and elected officials; and

Whereas

Senator Tom has announced his intentions to oppose ratification of the Senate leadership and committee chairs chosen by the elected Democratic majority, instead installing Republicans to chair important committees, including Healthcare, K-12 Education, Judiciary, and Ways & Means; and

Whereas

Republican control of the Senate would be a barrier to enacting legislation that advances Democratic goals and values, such as funding for K-12 education, broadened access to higher education, mental health counseling, insurance parity for reproductive care, and implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act (“Obamacare”);

Therefore, be it resolved

that State Senator Rodney Tom is advised to vote to ratify the leadership chosen by the elected Democratic majority caucus; and

Be it further resolved

that by failing to vote for this leadership slate, Senator Tom will be thwarting Democratic values and the will of the people, rendering himself ineligible for our future endorsement and support under our bylaws.

Adopted this 9th day of January 2013, by the 48th District Democrats

A similar resolution is being considered by the King County Democrats and it is expected that the Washington State Democrats will likewise condemn Rodney Tom when they meet the beginning of February. Rodney Tom’s actions have pretty much guaranteed that if and when he runs for re-election in 2014 that this seat will be hotly contested. Likewise Democrats statewide will need to make a concerted effort to try and pick up other Senate seats to ensure that they have a real Democratic majority.

Between now and then don’t expect much to get done by the legislature on raising new revenue or repealing unneeded and costly tax loopholes.  If action is to be taken in these areas it will have to be undertaken through an initiative from the people or at best a referendum by the legislature.  The problem is that Republicans are so knee jerk anti-revenue, cut government only, that things may well get worse before they get better for the state budget and the state economy.

Another Tim Eyman Initiative Coming Your Way in 2013

Chances are pretty good that another Tim Eyman initiative will be on next year’s ballot. It’s been under the radar and has gotten little scrutiny.  Initiative 517 – called the “Protect the Initiative Act” is an initiative to the Legislature. It’s basic provisions are to extend the time allowed  to collect signatures by an extra six months, make it a misdemeanor to interfere or harass signature gatherers, allow more local initiatives  and prevent pre-election legal challenges to initiatives. The deadline to collect signatures and turn them in is January 3rd, 2013.

Eyman filed I-517 on May 4th, 2012 and quietly piggybacked it on his I-1185 campaign signature gathering efforts. As noted in the Tacoma News Tribune on September 6, 2012,  a complaint was filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission charging that as a result of this piggybacking, I-517 illegally used money intended to pay for Eyman’s I-1185 signatures. The TNT noted that  “Through July alone, the campaign picked up 144,000 signatures …” of some 320,000 required by Jan 3, 2013. To date the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) has not acted publicly on this complaint. One can well argue that this is a self serving initiative to benefit Tim Eyman and his initiative business. It is special interest legislation that would give Eyman the ability to do more initiative campaigns and at a lower cost. That is hardly what Washington State needs – more Eyman initiatives.

According to the most recent Public Disclosure Commission reports, Eyman has raised no money to fund this initiative.  Instead he reports that all the signature gathering to date paid for has been in kind donations by others. The bulk of the money spent in kind has been by an out of state conservative foundation called  – Citizens in Charge out of Lakeridge, VA. To date they have donated in kind some $168,806.38 out of a total of $305,454 reported in kind total. Here is a breakdown of reported in kind donations from the PDC reports.

Citizens in Charge, Lakeridge, VA – $168, 806.38

People’s Petitioning, Edmonds, WA – $42,712

First Amendment, LLC, Olympia, WA – $7267.50

The remainder of the money, some $86,305 is now listed as individual in kind donations, mostly by paid signature gatherers. This is Eyman’s  attempt to get around the complaint that signature gatherers for I-1185 subsidized signature gathering for I-517. The problem is, if you read some of the e-mails involved, that appears to be a big question. Paid signature gatherers for I-1185 were told among other things that they had to also get signatures for I–517 or they would be fired.  Here is that part of the story as reported by the Tacoma News Tribune:

The PDC is investigating whether I-517 illegally used part of the money intended for I-1185.

That’s what’s alleged by critics such as Rick Walther. The Auburn signature gatherer says he was fired for refusing to reduce payments to his subcontractors for I-1185 signatures unless they also collected for I-517.

He said he and other gatherers were expected to take the money out of what had already been promised to them for the business-backed measure.

“All this money’s still coming from 1185,” Walther said of the arrangements. “There’s no new money for 517. They’re just moving funds around.”

The campaign denies using any money from I-1185 – instead leaning on petitioners’ interest in the topic to drive a volunteer effort. …

Directing the I-517 effort is Edward Agazarm, nicknamed “Eddie Spaghetti,” a fixture of Washington’s ­voter-petition industry.

His emails don’t exactly make it sound like a volunteer effort.

“If you don’t bring in equal numbers you are fired,” Agazarm wrote to another ­signature-gathering contractor, in what critics say is an order to collect a voter signature on I-517 for every signature petitioners were paid to collect on I-1185.

“Every petitioner in the state should get free SIGNATURES ON IT or else they should be fired, then stoned to death in a public square,” he said in another email.

So one has to ask why the PDC has not yet acted on this complaint with formal charges of some sort or referred the matter to the State Attorney General for more severe action than the PDC can impose.  The e-mails are pretty explicit that paid signature gatherers were coerced into collecting signatures for I-517 in order to be paid  for I-1185 signatures. Will Eyman  once again just get a slap on the wrist and continue on his merry way carrying on his initiative mill that helps pay his personal bills or will the PDC act forcefully by referring this matter to the Washington State Attorney General?

Here is more specific information on I-517:

Protect the Initiative Act
Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 517 concerns initiative and referendum measures.This measure would set penalties for interfering with or retaliating against signature-gatherers and petition-signers; require that all measures receiving sufficient signatures appear on the ballot; and extend time for gathering initiative petition signatures.Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would define terms concerning interfering with or retaliating against petition-signers and signature-gatherers, and would make such conduct a criminal misdemeanor and subject to anti-harassment laws. The measure would require that all state and local measures receiving enough signatures be placed on the ballot, limiting pre-election legal challenges. The measure would also extend the time for filing initiatives and gathering signatures from ten to sixteen months before the election when the vote would occur.View Complete Text

2012 Candidates Endorsed by the King County Democrats

The following is a list of candidates and ballot measures endorsed by the King County Democrats in Washington State for 2012. If you click on their name, it will take you to the candidate’s  website. Washington State has an all mail ballot election. The last day to mail ballots for the Primary is Tuesday August 7, 2012.  The last day to mail ballots for the General Election is November 6, 2012.

 

National Office

Barack Obama –  President

Maria Cantwell –  Senate

Laura Ruderman –  Congress –  WA CD #1

Jim McDermott –  Congress – WA CD #7

Karen Porterfield –  Congress – WA CD #8

Adam Smith –  Congress – WA CD #9

 

WA State Office Candidates:

Jay Inslee –  Governor

Bob Ferguson  –  Attorney General

Jim McIntire  –  Treasurer

Peter Goldmark –  Commissioner of Public Lands

Kathleen Drew –  Secretary of State

Greg Nickels –  Secretary of State

Mike Kreidler –   Insurance Commissioner

Craig Pridemore –   Auditor

 

WA State Legislative Candidates

Rosemary McAuliffe Senate LD 1

Derek Stanford –  House LD 1  Seat 1

Luis Moscoso –  House  LD 1 Seat 2

Mark Mullet –  Senate LD 5

David Spring  House LD 5 Seat 2

Zack Hudgins – House LD 11, Seat 1

Steve Berquist –  House LD 11, Seat 2

Bobby Virk –  House LD 11 Seat 2

Bob Hasegawa –  Senate LD 11

Roger Flygare –  House LD 30 Seat 1

Rick Hoffman –  House LD 30 Seat 2

Brian L Gunn –  House LD 31 Seat 2

Cindy Ryu –  House LD 32 Seat 1

Ruth Kagi –  House LD 32 Seat 2

Tina Orwall – House LD 33 Seat 1

Dave Upthegrove –  House LD 33 Seat 2

Joe Fitzgibbon –  House LD 34 Seat 2

Reuven Carlyle –  House LD 36 Seat 1

Sahar Fahti –  House LD 36 Seat 2

Noel Frame –  House LD 36 Seat 2

Gael Tarleton –  House LD 36 Seat 2

Sharon Tomiko Santos –  House LD 37 Seat 1

Eric Pettigrew –  House LD 37 Seat 2

Maureen Judge –  Senate LD 41

Jamie Pedersen –  House LD 43 Seat 1

Frank Chopp –  House LD 43 Seat 2

Roger Goodman –  House LD 45 Seat 1

Gerry Pollet –  House LD 46 Seat 1

Sarajane Siegfriedt –  House LD 46 Seat 2

David Frockt –  Senate LD 46

Bud Sizemore –  House LD 47 Seat 2

Ross Hunter –  House LD 48 Seat 1

Cyrus Habib –  House LD 48 Seat 2

 

Judicial Candidates – Washington State Supreme Court

Susan Owens –   Position 2

Steve Gonzalez –  Position 8

Bruce Hilyer –  Position 9

John Ladenburg –  Position 9

Sheryl McCloud –  Position 9

Judicial Candidates – King County Superior Court and Sheriff

Bill Bowman – Position 19

Scott Johnson – Position 20

Elizabeth J Berns – Position  25

Sean O’Donnell – ourt Position  29

Kim Allen –  Position  30

Ken Schubert – Position  40

Judy Ramseyer – Position  46

John Urquhart – King County Sheriff

Ballot Measures

King County Prop 1 – Children and Family Services Center Capital Levy – YES – on Primary Ballot

Seattle Prop  1 –  Regular Tax Levy Including Seattle Public Libraries –YES  – on Primary Ballot

Referendum 74 – Marraige Equality – APPROVE

Initiative 502 – License and Regulate Marijuana  – YES

Initiative 1240 Charter Schools – NO

Initiative 1185  Tim Eyman’s 2/3 vote for revenue – NO

 

 

Corporate Oil and Beer Profits Fuel Eyman’s I-1185 Signature Drive

It’s a strange combination but corporate oil and beer profits fuel the signature drive  for Eyman’s current initiative. Oil and water may not mix but it looks like oil and beer profits do. Latest reports from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission show corporate interests dumping in most of the $964,713 reported for Eyman’s I-1185 campaign to re-enact a 2/3 voting requirement by the legislature to raise revenue.

This latest million dollar corporate campaign to restrict the Washington State Legislature’s ability to raise funds is happening despite the recent King County Superior Court decision declaring that the 2/3 vote restriction in Initiative 1053 is unconstitutional. The decision by Superior Court Judge Bruce F Heller was issued on May 31, 2012. While this decision  will likely be reviewed by the Washington State Supreme Court.  Judge Heller’s Memorandum Opinion is pretty clear and simple.

Heller decleared  that The majority provision of Art. II, Section 22 is a clear restriction on the legislature’s power to require more than a majority vote for passage of tax measures. This restriction applies to statures  initiated by the legislature and to statues passed pursuant to voter initiatives,  While initiative measures reflect the reserved power of the people to legislate, the people in their legislative capacity remain subject to mandates of the Constitution,  Gerberding, 134 Wn.2d at 196.  RCW 43.135.024(1) is therefore unconstitutional.”

Despite this clear decision corporate interests persist in trying to prevent the Legislature from voting to directly raise revenue to fund basic state needs or to recoup revenue lost to non performing or under performing tax exemptions that are not benefiting  Washington state or its citizens.

On May 16, the Beer Institute  out of Washington DC dropped in $400,000 dollars to help pay Citizen Solutions, Eyman’s signature gathering firm.  BP Oil out of Chicago, Il added $100,000 as did Conoco Phillips Company out of Washington DC. The Washington Restaurant Association added $25,000.

Meanwhile the Association of Washington Business  acting to shield the true source of their money, paid $185,000 directly to Citizen Solutions. It was reported as an In Kind donation by Eyman. Where did the Association of Washington Business get the money from? Their public disclosure report shows that they received $100,000 from the  American Beverage Association in Washington, DC and another $100,000 from Tesoro Companies in San Antonio, Texas. In addition they got $50,000 from Equilion Enterprises in Houston Texas, and $50,000 from Shell Oil Company in Sacramento, California.

In a press report where Jay Inslee, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Washington accused the Assocation of Washington Business of collecting money from Tesoro to support Inslee’s Republican opponent Rob McKenna, the AWB  denied the accusation and said the money was passed on to Citizen Solutions to pay for collecting signatures on I-1185.

Big corporate interests are again looking out for their bottom line. Oil companies love it that Eyman is using his anti tax mantra to promote a measure that helps protect their profits.  Eyman is selling his snake oil potion to the citizen taxpayers of Washington State as something that benefits them. Unfortunately what it does is lock in a regressive tax system that soaks low income taxpayers and lets corporate profiteers off the hook for new taxes and prevents the legislature from repealing special interest tax breaks oil companies and others  enjoy.

Oil companies are opposing a State Legislative proposed  increase in the toxic substances tax that would have been used to clean up stormwater runoff contaminated by oil byproducts.  Here in Washington state oil companies are soaking up profits like mad as our gasoline prices are the highest in the nation.  We pay higher gas prices so they can pay Eyman to put in place a measure that would stop the legislature from charging them to help clean up an environmental problem caused by toxic oil in stormwater runoff entering our strearms, rivers and Puget Sound. Gas prices right now are the highest in the lower 48 states.

Three of the companies contributing to Eyman’s campaign are Shell oil companies.  Besides Shell itself, Tesoro Industries and Equilon Enterprises are affiliated with Shell. Equilion is doing business in Washington State as Shell Oil Products and has a crude oil refinery in Anacortes, Washington. Tesoro Industries also has a refinery in Anacortes and markets under the Shell name among others. In 2010 there was an explosion at the Tesoro Refinery at Anacortes, Washington that killed 5 workers.

Can Shell afford to help Tim Eyman? I suppose their  $8.7 billion dollar profit in the first quarter of 2012 left them with some spare change. BP Oil reported a profit of $5.9 billion and Conoco Phillips a profit of $2.9 billion.  To them a few hundred million to prevent the Washington State Legislature from having them help pay for cleaning up oil contaminated stormwater runoff is just another small investment in protecting their profits.

The taxpayers of Washington State, who are paying the highest gas prices in the United States, are the suckers unfortunately who suffer from both oil contaminated water and a regressive tax system that doesn’t tax the wealthy the same as lower income brackets. This is because Eyman’s 2/3 vote requirement for raising revenue or repealing corporate tax exemptions forces the legislature to cut public services like education and health care for seniors and children rather than do tax reform and make the system fairer and more equitable.

 Washington voters and taxpayers  need to wake up to the reality that letting a minority of 1/3 of the Legislators in one House dictate tax policy benefits the wealthy and Big Corporations a lot more than moderate and low income working families. Why else are the Oil and Beverage Companies funding I-1185?  It’s their corporate profits that’s driving their actions, not their civic altruism.

Don’t sign I-1185 or vote for it if it makes the ballot. 

FF35A82HGCT5

Washington Conservation Voters Make First Round of Endorsements for 2012.

The Washington Conservation Voters has released their first round of endorsements for the 2012 elections.

The Primary Election is August 7, 2012.

The General Election is Nov. 6, 2012.

Here is their list of endorsed candidates:

Statewide

Jay Inslee, Governor

 

Legislative

Senate Candidates

Andy Billig (3rd-Spokane)

Sen. Karen Fraser (22nd-Olympia)

Sen. Christine Rolfes (23rd-Kitsap County)

Sen. Kevin Ranker (40th- Island County)

Sen. David Frockt (46th-Seattle)

House Candidates

Rep. Zack Hudgins (11th-Tukwila)

Rep. Marko Liias (21st-Lynnwood)

Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (24th-Olympic Peninsula)

Rep. Dave Upthegrove (33rd-Des Moines)

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (34th-West Seattle)

Rep. Reuven Carlyle (36th-Seattle)

Rep. John McCoy (38th-Everett)

Speaker of the House, Rep. Frank Chopp (43rd-Seattle)

Rep. Hans Dunshee (44th-Snohomish)

Rep. Ross Hunter (48th-Bellevue)

 

Thurston County

Sandra Romero, County Commissioner

Big Oil Loves Tim Eyman

Big Oil loves Tim Eyman.  They love him so much they’re have given him $200,000 this year to protect their corporate profits and tax loopholes from the Washington State Legislature. They love it that he helped them two years ago prevent the Legislature from asking them to help clean up oil polluted stormwater in our state. They love it that voters said the Legislature needed a 2/3 vote to tax corporations and end profitable tax loopholes they have.

Eyman is busy carrying their water as he scurries to pay his minions to get signatures on I-1185 his “son” of 1053. I-1053 was passed by voters in 2010 and said the Legislature needed to get a 2/3 vote in both houses to raise new revenue or close any tax loopholes. For 2 years after an initiative passes it takes a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to amend an initiative. After that it takes a simple majority.

So Eyman is trying to put I-1185 before the voters to reset the clock for another 2 years.

The 2/3 vote requirement initially was in I-601 and then in I-960.  Both these measures barely passed 51% to 49%. Two years ago in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression and with high unemployment the measure passed with a 64% vote after opponents waited until the last few weeks to try to oppose it but it was too late.

Now voters can see the consequences of a no new taxes proposal which is what I-1185 is and what I-1053 is.  Austerity so to speak is another w0rd for protecting corporate profits while cutting services to the elderly, the sick and young kids.  Corporate interests like BP and Conoco Phillips continue to rack up huge profits and contribute to the increased concentration  of wealth in the hands of the few.

On April 4, 2012 BP Oil out of Chicago gave Eyman $100,000. Eyman immediately passed it on to his buddy Roy Ruffino at Citizen Solutions out of Olympia.  Citizen Solutions is paying signature gatherers $1.00 per signature and pocketing a fee for itself of course.

BP last year reported a net profit of $23.9 billion. $ 100,000 is peanuts to BP.

On April 20, 2012 Conoco Phillips added another $100,000,  Small peanuts to them also that they  can write off as a business expense. After expenses Conoco Phillips reported a 1st quarter Jan – March 2012 profit of $2.94 billion.

Isn’t it great that if you are a big corporation and you can buy yourself a place on the ballot and you can have friends like Tim Eyman to help you fool the public into supporting your corporate profits at the expense of diminishing public services that benefit the public.

Don’t sign I-1185!  Don’t support Big Oil’s power grab of the Washington State Legislature. Big Oil is not concerned about the well being of Washington State or its citizens. They are only concerned about increasing the bottom line of their business and their shareholders.

 

 

 

Feedback Wanted on Proposed WA Legislative Bill on Tax Expenditure Reform

Changes are needed in the ability of the Washington State Legislature to fund basic services like education and healthcare. The current state budget problems are made more difficult by the lack of flexibility of the Legislature to make decisions by a majority vote as directed by the Washington State Constitution and by a tax expenditure/exemption process that is shielded from legislative oversight by virtue of not being part of the normal budget process.

Many people are frustrated by the current stalemate in the legislative process and want more choices than just throwing up their hands and suffering more cuts in state services and more costs to working families. More options are needed for the voters than just saying we have no real choices.

Accordingly draft legislation has been written that could be a bill in the Legislature with a referendum clause for the voters or that could be a citizens  initiative for the Fall ballot if the Legislature doesn’t act..  The legislation is called  the Washington State Taxpayers Fiscal Reform Act.  You can see a draft copy for comment located here: http://www.majorityrules.org/?attachment_id=814

We are now circulating this draft for public comment and revision. I would appreciate your review of this draft  and any suggested revisions you might have.
The Taxpayers Fiscal Reform Act would:
1.  Allow the Legislature to repeal tax exemptions by a majority vote by repealing the current unconstitutional 2/3 voting requirement.
2. Add tax expenditures into the biennial  budget process.
3.  Require the Legislature to rank all spending, including tax expenditures as high, medium or low priority in meeting state needs.
4.  Require that the Legislature must act to reaffirm all tax expenditures after they have been audited by the state or they will sunset.
5. Limit any authorization or reauthorization of a tax expenditure to 10 years.
Please return all comments on the draft to Steve Zemke at the e-mail address below.
Thanks,
Steve Zemke – Chair
King County Democrats

Why Initiative 1053 needs to be Overturned by the Courts

The 2/3 vote requirement rule for the Washington State Legislature to act on revenue measures  imposed by Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 needs to be overturned. Everyone acts as if it is law, including most of the Washington State Legislators, but it is unconstitutional. The issue is before the Washington Court system and needs to be resolved.

I-1053 has created a crisis for our state. It  has limited the options of our state government to address our current  financial crisis. The result is that the state is being forced to continue to cut basic services like education and health care. It is driving the crisis into a downward spiral.

The state has already cut it’s budget by $10 billion and is facing another $2 billion in cuts just to balance its current budget.

The I-1053 campaign is just another example of misguided anti-government legislation that unfortunately has an opposite effect from what many voters thought they were voting on. They bought the rhetoric thinking it was good for the average citizen in this state.

However it was  Big Business and Corporate interests in this state that saw the measure for what it was – another opening to consolidate their power over the State Legislature. Corporations like the Bank of America and BP saw that this so called rule gave them virtual immunity from the threat of seeing their special interest tax exemptions being repealed once Eyman’s definition of a tax increase included repeal of tax exemptions. Voters missed this.

The Legislature over the years has passed special interest tax exemptions with a simple majority vote of 50%. These tax exemptions now exceed revenue from collected taxes. These tax exemptions are really expenditures of state money that if not in place could be used for other purposes like educating our youth and creating jobs. I-1053 has essentially grandfathered existing tax exemptions in permanently. That is because a 2/3 vote in both houses is needed to repeal them. This is almost impossible to do, considering that special interests only need to secure the votes of 17 Legislators out of 147 to stop a revenue measure being passed.

I-1053 also makes it almost impossible to raise any taxes on business. So the State is left with essentially one option to pay its bills and balance the budget – cutting programs.  Unfortunately for Washington residents, cutting means ending services and jobs  that benefit the majority of Washington voters, especially the middle class and working families.

It’s time to take back the Legislature from the special interests and reject the 2/3 voting requirement. There is a basic constitutional issue here.  What has happened is that on revenue issues, I-1053 is saying that if Legislators are for revenue increases or repealing tax exemptions, their vote only counts as half a vote, rather than a full vote, in trying to pass measures. Nothing in the Constitution says that this is the case or that this is allowed.

I-1053 was an initiative, not a constitutional amendment.  You can not change the constitution with an initiative.  The Washington State Constitution says that bills shall be passed by majority votes, not by 2/3 votes. I-1053 is unconstitutional and the courts need to reject it so the state can address it’s financial problems without special interests calling the shots.

The people also need to reject any further measures by Eyman trying to reaffirm I-1053. He will be running another one in 2012.  The reason for this is that for the first two years  after an initiative is passed, it takes a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to amend it. After that it is a majority vote.   By passing another 1053 type initiative, it would extend for two more years the inability of the Legislature to amend the 2/3 vote requirement. Voters need to understand that I-1053 style initiatives requiring a 2/3 vote to pass revenue measures benefits special interests a lot more than the average voter.

It’s time to reject the 2/3 vote requirement and take back the Legislature from the special interests.