Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Simple majority legislation fails State Senate

This is disappointing. Looks like we've got more work to do:
A proposal that would make it easier for school districts to win voter approval for property tax levies failed today in the state Senate by three votes.

“I don’t think it is over,” said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. She said the bill may come back up for a vote this session.

Despite an earlier assurance that many Republicans would likely vote yes if Democrats agreed to an amendment, most GOP senators voted no. Several said they don’t want to make it easier to raise property taxes, which are already high.

The Senate is the battleground for the measure, badly wanted by rural and suburban school districts that sometimes struggle to win the required 60 percent “supermajority” to pass their levies. The state House of Representatives has repeatedly voted in favor of reducing the requirement to a regular 50-percent-plus-1 “simple majority.”

The vote needed to get 33 votes in the Senate; it got 30.
Ironically, the simple majority legislation needs a supermajority vote to make it out of the chamber since it is a constitutional amendment. Republicans are apparently holding it up because Democrats won't agree to strict property tax caps which would reinstate badly designed rules from Tim Eyman's Initiative 747.

Republicans are essentially playing a bait and switch game:
Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, predicted widespread GOP support for the measure if Democrats agreed to allow levy votes only on the main November ballot. (As things stand now, the school budget schedule requires levy typically requires that levy elections be held in the spring, when fewer people vote.)

With that change, Brown quoted Hewitt as saying, GOP votes would “be there in a heartbeat.”

So she called their bluff. To the chagrin of longtime proponent Sen. Tracy Eide, D-Federal Way, Democrats agreed to an amendment allowing levy elections [only] in November.

“A half a loaf is better than none,” Eide sighed.

But she didn’t even get a slice. Even with the change, all but two Republicans voted against Senate Resolution 8207.
If your state senator voted against simple majority for public schools (roll call here), let his or her office know that you expect your representatives to support this critical legislation and are displeased with the vote. Note that Senator Lisa Brown, the Democratic Majority Leader voted against for parliamentary reasons (so she can bring it up again later) and actually does support the bill.

You can use the Legislative Hotline to contact your representatives:
Call our HOTLINE at 1-800-562-6000 (TTY for Hearing Impaired 1-800-635-9993). Callers to the Hotline can leave a brief message for their district legislators or for the Governor or Lt. Governor on issues of concern or on questions they may have about bills or laws. These messages are forwarded electronically to the appropriate individuals. When leaving a message with the Hotline, please be prepared to give your name and street address. For non-English speaking callers we offer interpreter services for many languages.
Or follow this link to do so electronically.

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