Title-only bills dropped to circumvent spirit of state Constitution
Today is the last day under Article 2, Section 36 of the state Constitution for new bills to be introduced unless two-thirds of lawmakers vote to hear the bill. To circumvent this constitutional restriction on new bills being introduced with less than 10 days to go in session, several title only bills were dropped today including three that relate to increasing taxes.
Here are the "details" on today's title only bills (this is the complete text of the bills):
- HB 2805 - Relating to fiscal matters: "The legislature intends to adopt legislation regarding fiscal matters in order to implement the 2011-13 operating budget."
- HB 2806 - Relating to crime victims' compensation: "The legislature intends to enact legislation concerning crime victims' compensation."
- HB 2808 - Relating to increasing state excise taxes to fund vital state programs: "The legislature intends to enact legislation concerning increasing state excise taxes to fund vital state programs act of 2012."
- HB 2809 - Relating to creating the state revenues act of 2012: "The legislature intends to enact legislation concerning creating state revenues."
- HB 2810 - Relating to creating the restoring vital state programs act of 2012: "The legislature intends to enact legislation concerning restoring vital state programs."
Several more title only bills have been introduced in the past week.
Yesterday the Seattle Times ran my op-ed discussing the need for legislative transparency reforms to avoid the use of title only bills and prohibit public hearings on the same day bill details are made available.
Here is a 2011 letter from State Auditor Brian Sonntag and Attorney General Rob McKenna encouraging lawmakers to adopt our proposed transparency reforms to help put the public back in the legislative process.
It would be better for lawmakers to repeal Article 2, Section 36 and replace with the constitutional transparency recommendations we are proposing. Another potential reform would be to move up the date of the state's revenue forecast to the beginning of session so lawmakers have more time to work on the budget while providing the public meaningful opportunity to comment.
Here is an exchange between reporter Austin Jenkins and Senators Lisa Brown and Ed Murray at today's budget press conference on whether the current legislative process is transparent enough: