Much ado has been made about a new rule in the Washington State Senate, which our very own Senator, Doug Ericksen championed, along with Senator Michael Baumgartner from Spokane. Included in the Senate rules that were passed on January 12th is a new requirement that 2/3rds of the Senate be in agreement in order to pass a new tax. This might sound familiar and it should. Four times Washington voters have passed initiatives requiring a 2/3rds majority vote in order to raise taxes. Each time the law was passed with a large majority of the voters and each time the state legislature (controlled by Democrats) voted to remove it.
While news of this new Senate rule is very good, there is a catch. It only applies to new taxes. Existing taxes, such as the gas tax or sales tax can be raised with a simple majority vote. While this is a move in the right direction, there is still much ground that needs to be covered. When questioned about this rule, Senator Ericksen stated, “We sent a clear and unified message that taxes are a last resort, not the first option. We will focus on reform, living within our means and priorities of government. We are moving in the right direction.”
Ericksen also said “This is why we need the Constitutional Amendment.” There was an attempt last year to bring to the voters a Constitutional Amendment requiring the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives to have 2/3rds majority vote in order to raise taxes, unfortunately it died in session. This year the Bill is being re-introduced as SJR-8200. You should consider contacting your legislator to support it.