Senate Majority Lisa Brown this afternoon weighed in on her Supreme Court case challenging I-601's and I-960's requirement for a two-thirds supermajority to pass a tax increase. Some notes from that:
Brown said she and many other lawmakers have long felt that the two-thirds rule was unconstitutional. But in court challenges in 1994 and 2007, the Supreme Court declined to weigh in on that, since critics couldn't show them a bill that otherwise would have passed.
That changed Friday. With a simple majority vote, the Senate voted to renew a 42-cents-a-liter liquor tax that expired last summer. But Senate President Brad Owen ruled that the bill failed because it didn't get two-thirds.
Brown then contacted attorneys, who she said wrote their arguments over the weekend.
Losing the $10 million liquor tax hike won't break the budget, Brown said, although the money would have helped drunken-driving enforcement.
Far more important, she said, is protecting the constitution. While Republicans may disagree with her on tax measures, she said, she can easily foresee issues like property rights where they might also balk at trying to amend the constitution with just a ballot measure.