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I-960 hearing: Fire chiefs say pass changes; farmers, biz groups say don’t

OLYMPIA --Last panel of speakers for and against a bill to make changes to I-960.

Mike Brown of the state Fire Chiefs said fire departments need help with 9-1-1 upgrades, hazardous materials equipment.He urges it to pass.

Scott Dahlman with the Washington Farm Bureau says his organization is strongly opposed to changes because they because it "usurps the will of the people."

"Why not go to the citizens with a proposal?" he said. "In a down economy, this is not the time to be raising taxes."

This debate today is not about the need to raise revenue," Dahlman. You can raise revenue, it's just more difficult. Send (voters) a package. They did it in Oregon."

Amber Carter with the Association of Washington Business, said it didn't take a stand on I-960 but strongly supported the two-thirds majority. The group doesn't oppose the removal of some notification provisions, but is adamantly opposed to removing the supermajority.

Passing changes to I-960 is "the first step" to raising taxes, she said. The state should go back to the priorities of government process, look at pensions, health care, eliminate state control of liquor stores and state printing.

Would AWB support extending the two-thirds majority to tax exemptions, which cut taxes for some companies, as well as tax increases, Sen. Joe McDermott asked.

The group would have to look at it, but "I don't think that would help our state with economic recovery," Carter said.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.