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Monday, July 25, 2011

LEV,WEA, State Legislators and Taxpayers File Lawsuit Challenging I-1053

In more breaking news, today LEV joined a lawsuit challenging I-1053 which requires a supermajority vote in the Legislature to raise revenues.

From the press release:

The plaintiffs believe the statute in question, established through the passage of I-1053, unconstitutionally impairs the ability of state lawmakers to fund public schools, which is the
paramount duty of the state.

Representative Jamie Pedersen is one of the legislators challenging the measure:

“Our state constitution is the ultimate expression of the will of the people. Making sure our laws – whether passed by the legislature or by citizens through the initiative process – abide by the constitution is critical to protecting democracy and the rule of law,” said state Representative Jamie Pedersen, chair of the House Judiciary committee. “The question of whether a super-majority requirement to approve legislation is constitutional has gone unanswered for many years. It’s time to get a decision, once and for all.”

The press release goes on to state that many educational measures in the last legislative session failed because of I-1053 for example, "SHB 2078 would have eliminated a tax break for large out of state banks and dedicated the proceeds to fund kindergarten through third grade class size reduction, as contemplated by Initiative 728."

“The idea of providing a $100 million tax break for huge, out-of-state banks at the same time as we are making deep cuts in our schools just seems ridiculous,” said state Representative Laurie Jinkins, sponsor of SHB 2078. “Even the lobbyists for these banks admitted in a committee hearing that Washington home-buyers were receiving no benefit from this tax break, but the supermajority requirement prevented us from closing the loophole and redirecting that money to education.” 

I agree with Representative Pedersen - this does need to get settled.  Can the voters approve initiatives that directly challenge state constitutional law or impede it?  I'm no lawyer but this sounds like an interesting legal challenge that could have national impact if they win.

2 comments:

Andy said...

It won't have a national impact because not all states have the same right of initiative that we have in Washington. And, our state Supreme Court's rulings are not binding on other states. But it will be interesting to hear how the plaintiffs in this case explain that they cannot fully fund education because they can't raise taxes, instead of cutting other expenses that do not have the same priority as education does in our state constitution.

That Passionate Teacher said...

They won't even have to go there.

It's a constitutional issue.

The WA state constitution says that a simple majority is needed to pass any bill. The requirement for a supermajority emplaced by initiative 1053 contradicts the constitution.

Contradicting the constitution is usually a recipie for a declaration of unconstitutionality by the courts...