Spin Control

WA Lege Day 19: Two-thirds on taxes on the table

OLYMPIA -- Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, argues in favor of requiring a supermajority in the House to approve tax increases. (Jim Camden)
OLYMPIA -- Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, argues in favor of requiring a supermajority in the House to approve tax increases. (Jim Camden)

Rep. Kevin Parker argues in favor of a two-thirds majority for the House to pass any tax increase.

OLYMPIA -- The House is debating a rule that may sound familiar -- a requirement that it pass any tax issues receive a two-thirds majority.

Familiar because that's been on the ballot five times, most recently last November. 

But the concept has been rejected by a King County Superior Court judge, has been argued before the state Supreme Court and could have a ruling any time. Anticipating that the Supremes might throw it out unless it passes by a constitutional amendment, House Republicans want to make it a House rule, which isn't subject to a court challenge. Democrats, who hold the majority in the House, don't favor it and it's unlikely to pass as a rule.

The debate sounds familiar too. Republicans say enacting the rule would be keeping faith with the voters who have repeatedly approved the measure at the ballot box.

"We can let the voters know that we're not out of step. . . we're not like Washington, D.C.," said Rep. J. T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, said.

Democrats say it can lead to gridlock because it keeps the majority from getting things done. "The majority should be able to govern," Rep. Jaime Pederesen, D-Seattle, said.

The rule change failed on a party-line vote, 52-41.




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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