“Initiative 1366 is blackmail,” one plaintiff charged.
No; it’s just political hardball.
Washington State voters have cast their ballots five times (by initiative measure) to require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the state legislature, or a vote of the people, to increase taxes.
Though the rule is neither hard to understand nor difficult to implement, legislators have repeatedly overruled the people they supposedly serve, overturning the measure and then, finally, suing to overturn the repeatedly re-enacted two-thirds requirement.
The Washington Supreme Court ruled that only through a constitutional amendment could citizens place upon their representatives the two-thirds mandate. And — you guessed it — the state’s initiative process doesn’t permit constitutional amendments, only statutes.
As I reported back in June, Tim Eyman and Voters Want More Choices haven’t skipped a beat. Their grassroots army collected over 335,000 voter signatures to place a new initiative on the ballot. This measure would cut a penny from the state sales tax unless legislators propose an amendment to the state constitution establishing the rule that taxes can only be raised via a two-thirds legislative vote or a popular vote.
The day after the signatures were verified and the measure placed on the ballot, a group of legislators and various special interests sued to block the measure from going to a vote. Last Friday, the court declared that Initiative 1366 would remain on the ballot for voters to decide.
So, whether “blackmail” or ingenious hardball, it looks like voters will have a chance to send a very direct message to their representatives: Do what the people want or else.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.