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Senators wrangle into night on I-960

Thu., Feb. 11, 2010

Partial suspension of tax restraint passed Tuesday

OLYMPIA – The Senate was forced to work late into the night to fix a self-inflicted problem in the Democrats’ key bill thus far this legislative session.

After voting Tuesday afternoon to suspend voter-approved limits on raising taxes, Senate Democrats discovered the changes they’d pushed through weren’t the ones they expected.

They wanted to suspend all of Initiative 960 until July 2011; the bill they approved only suspended the requirement for two-thirds majorities on any tax increase.

They wrote a new bill Wednesday and planned to introduce it in an after-dinner session, only to meet parliamentary resistance from Republicans, who objected to introducing and voting on a bill in such a short time frame. The solution: Keep working on noncontroversial bills until enough Republicans left the chamber that Democrats had the numbers to bring up the bill on I-960.

At press time, the Senate had begun debate on proposed amendments. The debate – which includes dire warnings about ignoring the will of the people pitted against impassioned pleas not to abandon children, the sick and the elderly to an “all-cuts” budget – was expected to be similar to Tuesday’s. So was the outcome, members of both parties said.

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, charged that Democrats want to suspend notification requirements to deceive voters and raise taxes: “You want to cover that up. You want to hide that from the voters.”

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