February 17, 2010 in City

House debates I-960 suspension

Rachel La Corte Associated Press
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OLYMPIA – The state House started contentious debate Tuesday night over the temporary suspension of tax-limiting Initiative 960, with opposition Republicans maneuvering to delay a vote.

Making full use of their limited power, the GOP minority asked to indefinitely postpone action on the bill, a move that allowed each legislator up to 10 minutes of speech time. The House currently has 61 Democrats and 37 Republicans.

Debate stretched into the evening Tuesday, with the House not expected to vote on the bill until today.

“This bill completely guts taxpayer protection in this state,” said Rep. Jaime Herrera, R-Camas. “I think there is no greater thing we can do than to respect the will of the people.”

Approved by voters in 2007, I-960 requires that two-thirds of the Legislature approve any tax increase – a significant hurdle compared with the simple majority approval needed for other bills.

The Senate already has endorsed a suspension of that rule until July 2011, when the next two-year budget cycle begins. Democrats said they needed to make that move to patch a budget deficit now pegged at $2.8 billion.

Lawmakers can amend initiatives with a simple majority vote after they’ve been on the books for two years, making this the first legislative session in which Democrats can suspend I-960.

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