Will the Majority Coalition in the Senate finish the job the Supreme Court started and take away I-1185’s protections?

by | Mar 14, 2013

Because House Democrats sued the voters, 6 justices took away I-1185’s 2/3 which protected the citizenry from higher taxes.  That arrogant act, suing the voters, has opened the floodgates of taxation.

         But what about protection from fee increases?  I-1185 requires fee increases to be legislatively approved.  A fee may only be imposed or increased in any fiscal year if approved with a simple majority vote in both the house of representatives and the senate and must be subject to the accountability procedures required by RCW 43.135.031.  (43.135.031 requires fee increases to be subject to a fiscal analysis, 10-year cost projection, etc).

         This protection ensures transparency and accountability.  For fees to be increased, bills must be introduced, fiscal analyses must be done, public hearings and public testimony must be taken, elected legislators must take recorded votes, and the Governor must sign them into law.  In other words, representation must accompany this taxation.  It is one of the founding principles of our country.  

         After Initiative 960 in 2007 passed, fees had to be done this way, but the Legislature quickly and quietly divested itself of responsibility by telling state agencies that they could raise fees on their own.  So voters passed Initiative 1053 in 2010, and it again put fee-raising authority back in the hands of the Legislature.  Nonethless, in 2011, the Legislature quickly and quietly ignored the voters’ mandate and gave away the authority to raise fees to state agencies. 

         The results have been a disaster.  The two most egregious abuses have been tuition and tolls.  What has been the result of the 2011 Legislature quickly and quietly giving fee-raising power to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats?  Double-digit tuition increases and auto-pilot tolls.  No accountability, no transparency, just radically higher fees.

         So the voters approved Initiative 1185 in 2012 and in addition to maintaining the 2/3 protection from higher taxes, it also renewed the voters’ repeated demand that the Legislature, not state agencies, decide on fees.  Thanks to Senator Pam Roach’s diligence and persistence, she’s received confirmation that I-1185’s fee-increase protections are now in effect (SEATTLE TIMES, January 9, 2013, AG’s office: I-1185 works just like I-1053 on fees).

         The House Democrats’ lawsuit allowed 6 justices to take away I-1185’s 2/3 protection from higher taxes.  Now the public’s attention needs to be focused on the Majority Coalition in the Senate.  Will they finish the job the Supreme Court started and take away I-1185’s fee-increase protections?  Or will they respect the voters’ ballot box decisions on fees?  

         Republican Ed Orcutt (ed.orcutt@leg.wa.gov), the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee, is adamant that I-1185’s fee increase protections must stay (Orcutt’s predecessor Mike Armstrong was a wet noodle on this issue). 

         Senate Transportation Chair Curtis King refuses to comment (360-786-7626).  To date, no one has asked Senator Rodney Tom (360-786-7694) or Senator Mark Schoesler (360-786-7620) about it.  

         The Majority Coalition in the Senate has a choice:  respect the voters’ repeated decision on fees or finish the job the Supreme Court started and take away another I-1185 protection.

         Please send an email to the Senate’s Majority Coalition members and tell them to NOT take away I-1185’s protection from fee increases (simply cut and paste the following email addresses into the “To:” line of your email):


         We strongly urge you to help us continue the fight on behalf of taxpayers.