No Valentine for voters; 2/3 for taxes fails

Feb 12, 2016

No one likes to go through a breakup but it stings even more when it happens around Valentine's Day. Despite voters sending lawmakers six separate love letters asking that their elected officials feel the love for the will of the people, some in the Senate today decided to continue to ignore the clear message from their constituents by not adopting SJR 8211: Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes.

The vote failed 26-23 (needed at least 33 votes). 

SJR 8211 failed despite a last minute appeal from Bernie Sanders to not "thwart the will of the people." Actually, that plea had to do with a different example of officials ignoring the voters. 

According to the Secretary of State's Office, in the high turnout presidential election of 2012, 90% of legislative districts (44 of 49) approved I-1185

Last December Washington Policy Center commissioned a statewide poll conducted by Elway Research, INC asking voters what they want the legislature to do if the court tosses I-1366. 65% said they want lawmakers to send voters a constitutional amendment if this occurs

SJR 8211 does not change the current referendum power of the legislature under the constitution. This means that if a 2/3 vote for a tax increase could not be achieved, a simple majority of lawmakers could still send a referendum to voters to enact the tax. The policy is either for a broad supermajority vote of lawmakers or a simple majority of voters. 

Considering the fact that 17 other states already have a similar supermajority restriction (ranging from 3/5 in Oregon, to 2/3 in California, to requiring voter approval of all tax increases in Colorado) and there are already 20 plus supermajority vote restrictions in Washington's constitution, there is nothing to fear by acting on a constitutional amendment other than what the voters may do. 

Now brokenhearted voters are left to wonder, yet again, why some of their elected officials don't trust them to decide the terms of their own constitution.