Model Resolution Opposing Tim Eyman’s I-1185

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WHEREAS Tim Eyman has sponsored Initiative 1185, a measure to the people that the Secretary of State has certified for the November 6th, 2012 ballot;

WHEREAS Initiative 1185 undemocratically requires a two-thirds affirmative vote of each house of the Legislature to take “any action” or “any combination of actions” that raises revenue to support our state’s common wealth;

WHEREAS majority rule is the underlying principle that makes democracy work;

WHEREAS Washington is a republic, as is the United States of America, governed by the people’s duly elected representatives;

WHEREAS courts have recognized that by majority and majority rule, our founding fathers meant greater than fifty percent – no more, no less;

WHEREAS majority rule is codified in Article II, Section 22 of the Washington State Constitution, which plainly declares, “No bill shall become a law unless on its final passage the vote be taken by yeas and nays, the names of the members voting for and against the same be entered on the journal of each house, and a majority of the members elected to each house be recorded thereon as voting in its favor”;

WHEREAS requiring supermajority votes for some categories of bills but not others is unfair and undemocratic, and takes us down a slippery slope towards hopelessly gridlocked government, where majority rule rarely prevails;

WHEREAS one of our nation’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, once wrote in an essay defending the U.S. Constitution (Federalist No. 22): “If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.”;

WHEREAS another one of our nation’s founding fathers, James Madison, concurred in a subsequent essay defending the U.S. Constitution (Federalist No. 58) that requiring more than a majority for a quorum would be undemocratic: “In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority.”;

WHEREAS Article VIII, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution declares, “The power of taxation shall never be suspended, surrendered or contracted away”;

WHEREAS the only legitimate way to change the rules in our democracy is to amend the Constitution, where they are spelled out;

WHEREAS Article XXIII of the Washington State Constitution does not permit amendments by initiative;

WHEREAS widely-respected King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller has ruled that Initiative 1053, Initiative 1185′s nearly identical predecessor, is unconstitutional in its entirety;

WHEREAS the Supreme Court of Washington has agreed to consider an appeal of Judge Heller’s ruling without staying his decision;

WHEREAS provisions requiring two-thirds votes to raise revenue and approve budgets have caused dysfunction and chaos in other states, especially California, where havoc has been wrought on the state’s fiscal health;

WHEREAS most of the other states in the Union do not have any provisions in their constitutions requiring two-thirds votes to raise revenue;

WHEREAS the money behind I-1185 was almost exclusively supplied by powerful out of state corporations or corporate lobbies like BP, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Tesoro, the American Beverage Association (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group), and the Beer Institute (Anhesuer Busch, MillerCoors, Heineken, etc.), which wish to prevent our lawmakers from requiring them to pay their fair share in taxes to support our common wealth;

WHEREAS the two-thirds vote requirement present in past initiatives similar to I-1185 have been interpreted by the Legislature and the executive department to apply to bills or actions that seek to recover revenue through the repeal of tax loopholes, but only a majority vote is needed to create a tax loophole;

WHEREAS thanks to this interpretation, I-1185′s predecessors, including I-960 and I-1053, have prevented lawmakers from removing tax loopholes for large, profitable corporations that don’t need them;

WHEREAS research by the Washington Budget & Policy Center has found that more than eighteen thousand public and private sector jobs have been eliminated as a result of state budget cuts since the summer of 2009;

WHEREAS I-1185′s predecessors have prevented lawmakers from democratically voting to protect many of those jobs by raising revenue to offset deep cuts;

WHEREAS I-1185 threatens our economic recovery and economic security by keeping the two-thirds requirement to raise revenue in place;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that [name of organization] takes a position opposing I-1185 on the November 6th, 2012 ballot and urges all Washingtonians to vote NO on I-1185.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that [name of organization] encourages its donors, members, and supporters to join the coalition opposing I-1185 and campaign actively for the defeat of I-1185.

References

  1. The text of the Washington State Constitution, which includes all of the sections cited in the resolution, is available from the state Legislature.
  2. The searchable text of Judge Bruce Heller’s ruling striking down I-1053 is available from Permanent Defense.
  3. The Supreme Court’s order accepting the appeal of LEV v. State from King County Superior Court is available from Permanent Defense.
  4. The complete text of the Federalist Papers, including the essays cited in the resolution, is available from the Library of Congress.
  5. Excerpts from the Alaska Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a measure similar to I-960 and I-1053 in 2007 are available from the NPI Advocate.
  6. An essay by retired Sacramento Bee political reporter Stephen Green describing the destructive impact of two-thirds vote requirements in California is available from the NPI Advocate.
  7. A chart showing the major donors to Tim Eyman’s I-1185 is available from Permanent Defense.
  8. The Washington Budget & Policy Center’s research on the cost and consequences of I-601, I-960, and I-1053 is available on their website.

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