Two state Senate Republicans want to change the chamber’s voting rules to require a two-thirds majority vote on bills that include tax increases.
Washington voters have approved initiatives requiring supermajorities five times between 1993 and 2012, but the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional.
Ferndale Sen. Doug Ericksen and Spokane Sen. Michael Baumgartner now want to use a procedural rule change to get around the court’s ruling.
“Voters demonstrated five times that they wanted this protection,” Baumgartner said in a news release. “What the Supreme Court took away, the Legislature can return – and it’s about time we did it. The Supreme Court can make its rulings in its chamber. The Senate makes its own rules in ours.”
The rule change would apply only to the Senate – not both chambers, like the initiative. But bills must still be approved by both chambers to become law, meaning any bills with a tax increase would have to clear the two-thirds majority in the Senate. Voter-approved referendums would be an exception to the rule change, requiring only a simple majority to pass, according to the statement.
To change the rules, the Senate only needs a simple majority — 25 of 49 Senators. The Majority Coalition Caucus controls the Senate with 25 Republicans and one Democrat.