Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bring on the Initiative 960 legal challenge!

It's time this unconstitutional piece of garbage was stricken from our books:
Senate Democrats have laid the groundwork for a lawsuit against a tax-limiting initiative, with the majority leader considering the unusual step of filing her own lawsuit in hopes of making it easier for lawmakers to raise taxes.

Friday's legal maneuver, coming in the 2008 session's waning days, is an unusually strong sign that lawmakers have grown tired of initiative promoter Tim Eyman's forays into limiting the Legislature's power.

The groundwork was laid when the Senate began debate on a proposed $10 million liquor increase that would pay for drunken driving enforcement and substance abuse treatment.
Acting to ensure Senate Democrats would have standing to bring a lawsuit, Senate Majority Lisa Brown requested that Brad Owen (the President of the Senate) rule Initiative 960 unconstitutional before the vote so the bill could go forward. When Owen declined to do, saying a court should decide the matter, the Senate went ahead and voted on the bill anyway.

25 senators voted in favor and 21 voted against.

So while it had majority support in the Senate, the revenue increase didn't meet the unconstitutional "two thirds" threshold set in place by Initiative 960.

This means that there is now an actual conflict between our state's supreme law of the land and an Eyman initiative - not simply a hypothetical collision. Back in January, I declared that it was only a matter of time before a lawsuit challenging the validity of Initiative 960 was filed:
Because the legislative session has just started, the unconstitutional two thirds supermajority requirement for raising revenue has not yet been tested yet, but it undoubtedly will be.

[...]

A lawsuit taking aim at Initiative 960's constitutionality is not a matter of if but when. Thankfully, the demise of Initiative 960 at the hands of the state Supreme Court would be final. It is unconstitutionally rotten to its core, and the Legislature wouldn't be able to reinstate it even if it wanted to. How distressing for Tim Eyman & Co.

The narrow majority of voters that approved Initiative 960 may not have realized what they were really voting for, but fortunately our democracy comes with a self cleansing mechanism: the power of judicial review..
In addition to wiping it off the books, a court decision against Initiative 960 would create a precedent that would prevent Eyman and others from paralyzing the legislative process with future initiatives to force supermajority votes on any category of bills (Eyman has already conceived one new "two thirds" initiative).

For a detailed look at why Initiative 960 is bad law, please read our series from last fall - Unconstitutional, Unfair, Unsound:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

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