"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Throwing out 1053

Today’s court decision throwing out Initiative 1053 may reshape quite a bit of Washington politics. It was a lower court decision, by King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Helle, but there’s a strong chance it’ll be upheld at the Washington Supreme Court level (where it certainly will reach).

I-1053 was the measure requiring that a two-thirds majority is needed in the state legislature to pass tax or many fee measures. It has put a severe limit on state budgeting options. The group No on 1052 – Uphold Our Constitution argued, “Initiative 1053 is Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to wreck government, funded by out-of-state corporations like BP, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Tesoro, Bank of America, USBank, and Wells Fargo, who want to change the basic rules our Legislature has operated by since statehood so they can preserve their special tax breaks. Under Initiative 1053, seventeen out of one hundred and forty seven lawmakers can block any revenue-raising bill that they don’t like. Initiative 1053 is an assault on our cherished tradition of majority rule – the bedrock principle of our democracy. It would effectively give a fringe minority the ability to veto important fiscal decisions.”

Helle’s short summary judgement decision was more to the legal point, that the initiative’s “supermajority vote requirement violates the simple majority provision of Article II, Section 22 of the Washington constitution, rendering that provision of the statute unconstitutional.” A mandatory referendum requirement, he wrote, violates another portion of the constitution.

If upheld, that means nothing like 1053 can hold up – Tim Eyman and his initiative organization can’t simply try against with different words. The concept is too flawed, by this legal ruling.

Since the Supreme Court is unlikely to deliver a decision on this before the Washington Legislature convenes in January, this is going to create a big squabble. Not least in the upcoming general election.

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