Just in time to avoid 2/3 vote requirement, new property tax increase bill introduced

About the Author
Jason Mercier
Director, Center for Government Reform

It must be the last two weeks of the session. Yet another bill to overturn a voter-approved law was introduced just today. This one is a massive property tax increase with 20 Senate sponsors. Under the title “Providing state and local property tax reform,” SB 5770 would change the voter-approved property tax growth factor for the state and local governments from 1% to 3% while also changing the definition of inflation to grow faster by using the CPI instead of IPD measure.

And just for fun, the new tax increase bill was introduced just outside of the 10-day window under the constitution that would have required a 2/3 vote to advance the bill. Per Article 2, Section 36 of the state constitution:

“No bill shall be considered in either house unless the time of its introduction shall have been at least ten days before the final adjournment of the legislature, unless the legislature shall otherwise direct by a vote of two thirds of all the members elected to each house, said vote to be taken by yeas and nays and entered upon the journal, or unless the same be at a special session.”

At least SB 5770 was introduced as a complete bill instead of the prior practice of using a blank Title Only bill to get around the 2/3 vote restrictions. The Senate Rules adopted earlier this year banned the use of Title Only bills.

After decades of following policy debates in Washington, I've learned that you need a specialty state-specific dictionary to understand legislative phrases. Words mean different things here. For example: An income tax in Washington means "excise tax" and "balancing the tax code" means increasing the property tax for everyone.

The session is scheduled to end on April 23. Good luck taxpayers.

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