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Debate over tax super-majority continues

 

OLYMPIA – A proposed constitutional amendment gave a Senate panel another chance to argue whether democracy is helped or hurt by requiring legislative super-majorities to approve tax increases.

Definitely helped, Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, the sponsor of the amendment, told the Ways and Means Committee. The requirement has been approved five times by voters through the initiative process, she noted, including last year. Spokane voters recently changed their charter to require a super-majority from their city council on taxes.

“It’s time for the people in the Legislature to match the people of the state,” Roach said, and began listing approval percentages for committee members.

Sens. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Ed Murray, both Seattle Democrats, were quick to raise their hands to indicate their districts rejected that initative.

Definitely hurt, said Nick Federici of Our Economic Future Coalition, an umbrella group for progressive and liberal organizations. If it takes a two-thirds majority to pass a tax increase, that means a one-third minority can block one, he said.. . 

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WA Lege Day 15: Saving emergency clauses for real emergencies

OLYMPIA – For most people, an emergency is something that usually requires flashing lights and sirens. For legislators, an emergency is something that requires a law take effect right away, rather than waiting the standard 90 days during which citizens might overturn it.

Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, thinks her fellow legislators have been too quick to call something an emergency, tacking a section onto nearly 1,000 bills that became law since 1997.

“Emergency” legislation has become routine, she told the Senate Government Operations Committee. “Over the years, it’s been misused.”

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Trapping clause draws objections as right-to-hunt amendment heads for Nov. ballot

Trapping is back in the spotlight in Idaho, the Times-News reports, with a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to enshrine the right to hunt, fish and trap. Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, pushed for the amendment; opponents are objecting that trapping shouldn't have been included. Click below for a full report from Times-News reporter Melissa Davlin.

House Rejects 2/3s Vote Requirement

The House has voted 37-33 in favor of HJR 1, the proposed constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote of each house for any tax or fee increase, increase in any existing tax or fee, or removal or reduction in any existing tax break - which is not enough. The proposed constitutional amendment required a two-thirds vote in each house to go before voters at the next general election. In the House, that means it needed 47 votes/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you support a two-thirds vote from each house of the Legislature to raise taxes or fees?

Council may call for Constitutional amendment

Spokane City Council members next week will tackle an issue that goes beyond city limits.

They will consider a nonbinding resolution asking Congress and state legislatures to amend the Constitution to give lawmakers the authority to limit corporate political spending in campaigns.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, ruled in 2010 that the First Amendment barred Congress from creating spending limits on corporations in political campaigns, though the court left intact the ability to limit direct donations to candidates.

Critics of the decision say it allows elections to be manipulated by the rich and powerful and point to the “Super PACs' that are pouring millions of dollars into the presidential election.

The resolution is sponsored by Councilwoman Amber Waldref. She said Monday that she expects a close vote.

“I really thought that these were values that we all shared,” Waldref said.

Councilman Mike Fagan opposes the resolution.

“The Constitution is not a living document,” Fagan said after Monday's council meeting. “In my opinion, it would take something earth-shattering in order to warrant a Constitutional amendment.”

Vick Seeks To Hamstring Tax Hikes

North Idaho Sen. Steve Vick wants Idaho to enact a constitutional amendment to require two-thirds votes in both the House and Senate to pass any tax or fee increase. Vick noted that 16 states have such requirements; all were enacted by voters through initiatives or referenda. “I think that any time you raise taxes you take a little bit of people's freedom,” Vick said. “I just think it should be a little harder to do.” Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, told the House State Affairs Committee this morning, “What you need to know is that these kinds of things are very popular with the voters.” Committee members had lots of questions about Vick's proposal, however. “Idaho is different,” said Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake. “We aren't out there raising taxes as much as some of these states”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you support a two-thirds vote in House and Senate to pass any tax or fee increase?

WA Lege Day 53: Bail changes on the ballot

OLYMPIA — Washington voters would be given a chance in November to change the constitution in a way that would allow more suspects to be held without bail before they go to trial.

A resolution passed Thursday by the Senate calls for a vote on a constitutional amendment that expands the “no bail” exception that now exists for people accused of a capital crime.

If voters approve in November, the following language would be added:

“Bail may be denied for offenses punishable by the possibility of life in prison upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence of a propensity for violence that creates a substantial likelihood of danger to the community of an yupersons, subject to such limitations as shall be determined by the Legislature.”

The bill is a reaction to the Maurice Clemmons case in which a suspect awaiting trial killed four police officers in Lakewood, Wash. It now goes to the House, which has supported a similar measure.