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Wash. Supreme Court To Hear Constitutional Challenge To Supermajority

Austin Jenkins


OLYMPIA, Wash. – It’s on Washington’s November ballot. It’s also before the state’s highest court. We’re talking about the question of whether to require a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes. Oral arguments are scheduled this week in a constitutional challenge to the supermajority threshold.

A lower court judge in Seattle’s King County recently ruled the two-thirds requirement violates the state constitution. Now the case is before the Washington Supreme Court on appeal.

The original lawsuit was brought by a group of Democratic lawmakers, educators and school funding advocates. They argue the voter-approved two-thirds requirement conflicts with a simple majority provision in the Washington constitution.

Attorney Paul Lawrence will make that case before the Supreme Court. He says just because it’s back on the ballot this year for a fifth time -– courtesy of initiative promoter Tim Eyman - doesn’t mean it’s constitutional.

“So if Tim Eyman or the people of the state of Washington want to impose a two-thirds requirement to pass taxes, the only way to do that is through a constitutional amendment," Lawrence says. "They can’t do that through a statute or an initiative.”

The state maintains the supermajority threshold is constitutional. The Washington Supreme Court rejected three previous challenges on technical grounds.

On the Web:

Washington Initiative Measure 1185

Washington state Constitution

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network