This Washington

House Speaker Chopp: Open to Suspending 2/3 Rule Again

By Erica C. Barnett September 2, 2011

On KUOW's "The Conversation" yesterday, state House speaker Frank Chopp (D-43, Seattle) indicated that he might be open to suspending Tim Eyman's voter-approved "two-thirds" rule, I-1053, which requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes. The legislature can suspend any initiative two years after it passes, and in 2010, they did just that, suspending Eyman's earlier I-960 rule to raise $771 million in revenue. Later that year, voters passed I-1053, reinstating the two-thirds rule. Next year is the first opportunity for the legislature to overturn that initiative.

Although he did not explicitly say he would support suspending I-1053, Chopp responded to host Ross Reynolds' question about the two-thirds requirement by referring to the "extraordinary economic times."

"I certainly am going to be advocating for a balanced approach. … I've seen the effects of these budgets and these budget decisions on real people," Chopp said. "Keep in mind that we are in extraordinary economic times. These are the most serious [economic times] since the Great Depression. When I was growing up ... my dad, for example, had to go  to work at age 12 at the coal mines in Roslyn, and I never thought we'd have those kind of economic times in my lifetime. But sure enough, we've got those kind of situations now [and] so we're trying to make our best decisions about how to balance that."

Chopp also said that Attorney General Rob McKenna was "wrong to be contesting [Obama's] health care law"; that he's looking to house transportation chair Judy Clibborn to "come back with a proposal on how to address the issue of cost overruns" on the deep-bore tunnel (which state legislation passed last year says Seattle-area taxpayers will have to pay for); and said house Democrats were working on a proposal to raise revenues to address the looming budget shortfall.

We have a call in to state senate majority leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane) to get her assessment of overturning 1053. We spoke with Brown about the issue in July.
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