The Washington State Constitution currently says that a majority vote of our state Legislators is required to pass legislation. That means that 50% of the members of the Washington State House of Representatives and 50% of the members of the Washington State Senate must vote in favor of passing any bill. That includes any bills to raise revenue or repeal a tax exemption or reform our regressive tax system. 50% of the 98 member House is 50 members. 50% of the 49 member Senate is 25 members.
On July 3, 2015 Tim Eyman filed with the Washington Secretary of State some 334,000 signatures on Initiative 1366 to the people. Just over 246,000 valid signatures (8% of those who voted in the last Governor’s race) are required to place an initiative on the November general election ballot. So the odds are very high that this measure will be on the November 3, 2015 ballot.
Initiative 1366 is an extortion style initiative, proposing to cut $1 billion per year from the Washington State budget unless Legislators by June 2016 place a Constitutional Amendment on the Ballot to require a 2/3 vote of both Houses of the Legislature to raise any tax or repeal any tax exemption.
The consequences are staggering if voters pass this measure. Because both Houses of the Legislature would have to pass any bill increasing taxes, as few as 12% of the members of the State Legislature would have the power to overrule a 50% majority vote in both Houses to raise revenue.
It may sound enticing to buy Eyman’s libertarian rhetoric to make it harder to raise revenue by requiring a 2/3 vote of both Houses. But this means that only 1/3 of the Legislators in either the House or the Senate is all that’s required to kill a bill to raise revenue.
The House has 98 members. That means a minority voting block of only 34 House members (or 23% of all Legislators) could kill revenue bills or a budget raising new revenue.
The Senate has 49 members. A 1/3 minority voting block of 17 Senators (or 12% of all Legislators) could kill any bill that increased revenue.
Since a vote to kill any revenue increase under Eyman’s proposed Constitutional amendment would require a 2/3 vote in both Houses, a minority caucus of only 17 anti tax Senators out of 49 voting NO would prevent passage of any tax or revenue increase bill. 17 Senators out of a total of 147 Legislators in both Houses is equal to only 12% of the State Legislators.
This is the dirty little secret that Eyman and his anti-tax large funders do not want the public to understand – that I-1366 would turn over the tax setting authority of the state to only 12% of our state Legislators. This is a much easer number of Legislators for Big Oil and Big Corporations and other special interests to elect to office than 50% of our state Legislators. It is much easer for them to convince only 12% of the state legislature to vote NO on closing tax loopholes than 50%..
The consequences of overturning majority rules and imposing Eyman’s minority rules are mind boggling. To go from 50% of Legislators required to pass a revenue bill to allowing 12% of the legislators to prevent passage of a revenue bill would turn democratic rule on its head and give unprecedented power to a tiny group of Legislators. This is totally contrary to the idea of proportional representation and elected Legislators of the state having the power to make decisions by majority votes, including tax and revenue issues.
The founders of our Federal Government very clearly stated the danger of requiring more than a majority of Legislators to pass legislation. The drafters of the Washington State Constitution also reached the same conclusion – that any so called “supermajority” voting requirement to overrule the will of a majority would allow for a tyranny of a minority.
Vote NO on Initiative 1366 this November. It is Tim Eyman’s Libertarian dream and folly trying to destroy the power of the people to have a government based on majority voting by turning tax setting policy and our ability to pass state budgets over to a tiny minority ant-tax voting block of 12% of our elected Legislators. It would give unprecedented power to a few to continue to shrink government and allow an oligarchy of a few rich people to literally spend enough money to elect and keep elected an anti-tax minority to keep in place “Rule by the 12%”
Eyman’s proposed constitutional amendment would end majority rules for voting that is in our state constitution and replace a requirement for 50 % majority votes in both Houses with “Rule by the 12%.
Say NO to Eyman’s latest folly by voting NO on Initiative 1366 on November 3, 2015.
Say No to Eyman’s “Rule by the 12%”