Judge rules Legislature's need for two-thirds majority on taxes unconstitutional

A King County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that the rule which requires the state Legislature to have a two-thirds majority in order to raise taxes is unconstitutional.

Judge Bruce Heller ruled Wednesday after the case was brought to the court by several local groups, as well as private citizens, two years ago.

The statute, which was passed by voters most recently in the form of I-1185 in January 2012, requires that any tax increased passed by the legislature needs two-thirds approval by both the state House and Senate.

Heller stated in case documents the mandatory referendum requirement was unconstitutional because "supermajority vote requirement violates the simple majority provision" in the state's Constitution.

The lawsuit, which was filed by groups like the League of Educational Voters, the Washington Education Association and others, claimed the rule kept lawmakers from funding schools and other public services.

“This decision is a victory for the children of Washington state,” said Mary Lindquist, WEA president in a press release. “If it is upheld, this ruling will pave the way for the Legislature to fully fund K-12 public schools as mandated by the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision and the state Constitution. We hope it will be settled soon. Our kids can’t wait any longer.”

It's expected that the decision will be appealed by the state to the Washington Supreme Court.


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