Opinion

Misrepresenting us over supermajority rule | GUEST OP

By Brian L. Gunn
For the Reporter

In the March 8 edition of the Reporter, 31st Legislative District State Reps. Christopher Hurst and Cathy Dahlquist criticized Washington State Supreme Court Justices for upholding our state's constitution.

Hurst and Dahlquist accuse the court of "judicial activism" and "lack of respect" for the will of the voters. Neither of these accusations is true.

In the article our representatives take the Supreme Court to task for overturning the two-thirds supermajority rule for raising state taxes. However, the justices did not act to thwart the will of the people, but rather ruled correctly that a citizen initiative cannot amend the state constitution.

The constitution clearly states that a simple majority is all that is necessary to enact legislation; therefore, I-1185 and other Eyman initiatives before it violate the constitution. The constitution also states that the path to an amendment must start with the Legislature. The Supreme Court upheld the law, as is their sworn duty, and I find it offensive for our legislators to call the integrity of the court into question.

Hurst and Dahlquist claim to "represent our voters," but their support of the supermajority requirement is false populism at its worst. The supermajority rule has not helped the voters of the 31st District or the state of Washington. It has, in fact, done just the opposite.

Eyman's initiative campaigns were heavily funded by out-of-state PACs and corporations because supermajority laws make it easy to vote in tax breaks benefiting big business interests with only a simple majority while requiring a two-thirds majority to repeal them. Effectively, this makes these tax breaks permanent even when they cease to serve the needs of the people of Washington and instead are only lining the pockets of Wall Street CEOs.

Have you noticed that since the Eyman initiatives took effect, you have to pay higher fees and tolls? I have. The state is nickel and diming us to death with tolls on HOV lanes, higher college tuition and fees to use state parks. These user fees are the only ways that the Legislature can balance the budget with the supermajority in place.

Next election time, pay attention to where your representatives get their campaign money. That's the only way you'll know whether they'll be answerable to you, the voter, or to the outside interests who want you to pay for their trips to the Caymans.

Brian L. Gunn, a political activist in the 31st Legislative District, is a Washington State Progressive Caucus board member. He also is state committeeman of the 31st Legislative District Democrats, and is active with the Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution (WAmend), working to overturn Citizens United.

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