The constitutional question comes down to this: Does Article 2, Section 22 of the state constitution—which says bills must be passed by a majority vote—set a floor or a ceiling on the number of votes?

The opponents of the two-thirds rule (a batch of Democratic legislators and education advocates) argue that the provision is a ceiling---that is, there's no wiggle room. (They won the argument earlier this year in King County Superior Court.) They cite the fact that there are 17 instances in the constitution that specify higher voting thresholds (such as issuing bonds or passing a constitutional amendment), making it clear that higher voting thresholds need to be spelled out.

Pushing for a more flexible reading, the AG's office, which defended the law in court today, argues that the majority requirement is merely a floor. - See more at: http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/tuesday-jolt-two-thirds-rule-debated-in-supreme-court#sthash.yhcL27Xj.dpuf

The Washington State Supreme Court is set to issue a decision tomorrow morning on whether or not the voter-approved rule—in this case, Initiative 1053—that requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes is constitutional.

Voters reaffirmed I-1053 this fall by passing I-1185. Both initiatives were spearheaded by Tim Eyman and have made it difficult for the Democrats to add a revenue component (new taxes) to the budget balancing equation.

A group of education advocates and liberals brought the case after house Democrats forced the issue in late 2011 by trying to pass a tax increase.

The constitutional question comes down to this: Does Article 2, Section 22 of the state constitution—which says bills must be passed by a majority vote—set a floor or a ceiling on the number of votes?

The opponents of the two-thirds rule (a batch of Democratic legislators and education advocates) argue that the provision is a ceiling---that is, there's no wiggle room. (They won the argument earlier this year in King County Superior Court.) They cite the fact that there are 17 instances in the constitution that specify higher voting thresholds (such as issuing bonds or passing a constitutional amendment), making it clear that higher voting thresholds need to be spelled out.

Pushing for a more flexible reading, the AG's office, which defended the law in court today, argues that the majority requirement is merely a floor. - See more at: http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/tuesday-jolt-two-thirds-rule-debated-in-supreme-court#sthash.yhcL27Xj.dpuf
The constitutional question comes down to this: Does Article 2, Section 22 of the state constitution—which says bills must be passed by a majority vote—set a floor or a ceiling on the number of votes?

The opponents of the two-thirds rule (a batch of Democratic legislators and education advocates) argue that the provision is a ceiling---that is, there's no wiggle room. (They won the argument earlier this year in King County Superior Court.) They cite the fact that there are 17 instances in the constitution that specify higher voting thresholds (such as issuing bonds or passing a constitutional amendment), making it clear that higher voting thresholds need to be spelled out.

Pushing for a more flexible reading, the AG's office, which defended the law in court today, argues that the majority requirement is merely a floor. - See more at: http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/tuesday-jolt-two-thirds-rule-debated-in-supreme-court#sthash.yhcL27Xj.dpuf
—which says bills must be passed by a majority vote—set a floor or a ceiling on the number of votes? - See more at: http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/tuesday-jolt-two-thirds-rule-debated-in-supreme-court#sthash.yhcL27Xj.dpuf
Does Article 2, Section 22 of the state constitution—which says bills must be passed by a majority vote—set a floor or a ceiling on the number of votes? - See more at: http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/tuesday-jolt-two-thirds-rule-debated-in-supreme-court#sthash.yhcL27Xj.dpuf

The basic constitutional question: Does Article 2, Section 22 of the state constitution set a floor or a ceiling when it says it takes a simple majority to pass a law?

Ironically, the liberals who pushed the case are looking for a strict interpretation, namely that the constitution sets a ceiling, while conservatives seek a more liberal ruling, namely that the constitution only sets a floor.

Opponents of the two-thirds rule say it would be inconsistent of the court to demand, as they did in the recent McCleary decision, that the legislature find more money to fund K-12 education (they need about $1.4 billion more this biennium) without simultaneously giving them the ability to raise revenue.

That point, however, is not a constitutional one, just a clever political one.

We'll see what happens tomorrow.

We have reported extensively on the case since the Democrats first set the stage by forcing the tax vote in 2011. Start here to read all of our coverage.