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Legislators Want Voter Opinion? NOT

March 5, 2010 4 comments

This article, from the Olympian, was posted just today, after the drill yesterday to introduce the bill around noon and hold a ways and means hearing on it at 4:30 yesterday.

I wonder if they really want our “voter opinions”.

Legislator wants voter opinions on income tax

Referendum: Measure would target high-income residents

RACHEL LA CORTE; The Associated Press | • Published March 05, 2010

  • Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown wants voters to weigh in on the idea of an income tax on high earners.

In a blog posting on Thursday, the Spokane Democrat suggested that the Legislature pass the Senate Democrats’ temporary three-tenths-of-a-cent sales tax increase proposal and that it take effect immediately. But Brown also suggested that the Senate should pass a bill sponsored by Sen. Rosa Franklin, a referendum that would ask voters whether they want to lower the sales tax to 6 cents, and in its place approve a “high earners” income tax.

The tax would be on 4.5 percent on all income over $200,000 for individuals, $300,000 for heads of households, and $400,000 for married couples.

“It’s a question to voters if that’s the direction they would want to go,” Brown said later in the Senate wings.

The Senate was still working on language of the bill, and it was to be posted before the start of a hearing on it later Thursday.

The likelihood of such a measure getting enough votes is uncertain, and Brown acknowledged she hadn’t yet counted votes.

“Just because we’re holding a hearing doesn’t mean that this is a direction for the caucus,” said Senate Ways and Means Vice Chairman Rodney Tom, D-Medina, who is opposed to the measure. “We have a lot of serious issues we need to address now, as far as how we’re going to get our fiscal house in order and get a balance between our revenues and our expenses.”

Lawmakers are working to patch a $2.8 billion budget deficit before the legislative session ends next Thursday.

House and Senate Democrats have both unveiled proposals mixing of cuts and tax increases.

The Senate is pushing for a temporary sales tax increase and an additional $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes, and closing numerous tax exemptions. House Democrats are looking to shrink a long list of tax exemptions and collecting more money from smokers, lawyers, accountants and out-of-state businesses.

House Democrats indicated that introducing such a measure a week before session is to adjourn makes it a long shot.

“It seems fairly unlikely,” said House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam. “But, you know, everybody’s out there trying to figure out a way that will work.”

Republicans questioned whether such a referendum could be passed on a simple majority vote. Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, said that he thinks any change to the tax code would require a constitutional amendment, meaning that two-thirds of the Legislature would have to approve it.

“They’re trying to do the class-warfare thing in their tax debate,” he said. “But constitutionally, it’s not going to work.

Brown has long supported the idea of an income tax on the state’s highest earners, but the idea has not been able to gain traction in past years.

She pointed to the January election in Oregon, where voters approved tax increases on businesses and the wealthy. Measure 66 raised tax rates on individuals who earn more than $125,000 and couples with incomes greater than $250,000. Measure 67 increased business taxes.

“Oregon voters spoke loudly and clearly about their desire to limit the impact of any revenue increase on middle class families, while also protecting the classrooms, financial aid, health care and public safety so essential to their middle class standard of living,” Brown wrote on her blog.

Brown said that under the referendum, the state’s middle class voters could “not only have a the opportunity to protect essential services while asking wealthier citizens to pay their fair share, but the middle class would also have the opportunity to lessen the amount they currently pay.”

Gov. Chris Greogire is “not closed off to the idea, but knows there’s difficulties,” said spokeswoman Karina Shagren.

SB 6754 & SB 6449 Public Hearing Scheduled for TUESDAY, 2/23

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

They’ve scheduled public hearings for these two pieces of…..”Legislation”.  TUESDAY, Feb. 23, 2010 at 1:30.  If you can make it down to Olympia for this, please do.  Please write and call your Representatives.

State Government & Tribal Affairs

2/23/10 1:30 pm House Full Committee House Hearing Rm D John L. O’Brien Building Olympia, WA

ESB 6754 – Making the names and addresses of persons signing initiative or referendum petitions public records.

SB 6754http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2010&bill=6754 SB 6754

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2009-10/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/Senate/6754%20SBA%20GO%2010.pdf

ESSB 6449 – Regarding signature gatherers for petitions. Other Senate bills previously heard in committee. 

WA SB 6449: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2010&bill=6449

Here’s the Latest on SB 6130 – I 960

February 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s what I find this morning.  I watched this debate until about 10:00 last night.   They’re going to convene at 10:00 today to continue the debate and vote later today.  Please make a trip down there if at all possible.  If you can’t make it to Olympia, you can watch the live debate and vote here: http://www.tvw.org/index.cfm?bhcp=1   You can also find it broadcast on TVW Station from your local cable provider. 

Wash. House has debate on suspension of I-960

By RACHEL LA CORTE | Associated Press Writer

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The state House had a contentious debate Tuesday night over the temporary suspension of tax-limiting Initiative 960, with opposition Republicans maneuvering to delay a vote.

Related Stories & Links

Washington state Legislature (weblink)

Making full use of their limited power, the GOP minority asked to indefinitely postpone action on the bill, a move that allowed each legislator up to 10 minutes of speech time and led to about six hours of debate. The House currently has 61 Democrats and 37 Republicans, and the motion ultimately failed.

“This bill completely guts taxpayer protection in this state,” said Rep. Jaime Herrera, R-Camas. “I think there is no greater thing we can do than to respect the will of the people.”

The House is expected to return to the floor at 10 a.m. Wednesday for more debate before voting on the measure that would suspend I-960, which was approved by voters in 2007.

The initiative requires that two-thirds of the Legislature approve any tax increase – a significant hurdle compared to the simple majority approval needed for other bills.

The Senate already has endorsed a suspension of that rule until July 2011, when the next two-year budget cycle begins. Majority Democrats said they needed to make that move to patch a budget deficit now pegged at $2.8 billion.

Democratic lawmakers plan to increase taxes and cut spending to balance the deficit, but they don’t have enough members to get a two-thirds vote in either the Senate or House.

“I believe that my voters want me to have a balanced view of how I look at our budget and our responsibilities here,” said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Lawmakers can amend initiatives with a simple majority vote after they’ve been on the books for two years, making this the first legislative session that Democrats can suspend I-960.

But critics of the plan said it would be a mistake to raise taxes while Washingtonians try to recover from the worst recession in decades.

“The bill before us would raise taxes during one of the worst economic downturns of our state,” said Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.

As it stands, the I-960 suspension bill would still allow e-mail notifications to be sent to the public about proposed tax increases, including 10-year cost projections of the measures. But the rest of the measure would be suspended, including a requirement for a nonbinding advisory vote by the public on taxes passed by the Legislature.

Four Republican amendments were rejected Tuesday night, including one that would restore the advisory vote requirement.

The changes to I-960 must clear both chambers and be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire before lawmakers can move ahead with tax-raising votes. Gregoire is expected to approve the Legislature’s plan.

The state Senate would have to vote on the bill one more time before it could be sent to Gregoire for final approval.

The I-960 suspension is Senate Bill 6130.

Washington State Fascists will try again to suspend I-960Legislative do-over

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

This is INFURIATING.  These FASCISTS need to hear from us, and soon.  To ignore the State Constitution and the will of the people is absoloutely jaw-dropping.   Their imperialistic attitude will not be tolerated and they’re going to see just how mad We, The People are in November, but I hope they hear us LOUD AND CLEAR before then.  To say that they’ll face a WALL OF RAGE, no matter what they do, so they should just do it anyway is absoloutely UNACCEPTABLE and APPALLING.  This is Nazi crap we’re dealing with now, folks.

 GET OUT OF OUR HOUSE.  YOU ARE FIRED.

Vote would suspend entire initiative, not just part of it.

State Senate Democrats say they flubbed their vote on suspending the two-thirds vote requirement in Initiative 960 for tax increases, and they need to vote again as soon as today on a broader measure.

The Senate voted 26-23 on a largely party-line basis to suspend the supermajority vote requirement for I-960. But they really intended to suspend the entire initiative and will have to vote again, Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, said Tuesday evening in a news release.

The new vote would completely suspend Initiative 960, including its requirement for nonbinding or advisory votes for any tax increases as well as publication of all tax increases approved and who voted for them.

“Today’s vote was a recognition of the revenue crisis facing our state and 47 others, and the need for immediate responsiveness on the part of the Legislature to the state’s current budget emergency,” Prentice said in her statement. “Suspending the entire initiative allows for prompt action now, avoiding the added delay and additional cost to the state that a November public advisory vote would require.

The state treasurer says the state will run out of cash by September, so you can see how that sort of delay is something the state just can’t afford.”

Republicans roasted the Democrats in floor speeches during a more than two-hour floor debate for purportedly “gutting” I-960 with Senate Bill 6843. The GOP is likely to step up those attacks.

The vote on SB 6843 initially appeared to move the Democrat-controlled Legislature another step closer to being able to raise taxes as they work to plug a budget gap now measuring $2.2 billion.

Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch and four other Democrats – Steve Hobbs of Lake Forest Park, Claudia Kaufmann of Kent, Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor and Chris Marr of Spokane – had crossed over to vote with Republicans in opposition.

Until the do-over was announced, the bill was supposed to go to the House, where Democratic leaders said a vote might not occur until next week. Democrats need Gov. Chris Gregoire to sign the bill into law before tax bills can move easily through the two chambers, because they do not have two-thirds majorities needed to approve taxes, as I-960 requires. Gregoire also backs the bill; her legislative director said she wants to be sure lawmakers can provide revenues to avoid an all-cuts budget.

In a lead-up to their vote, Democrats dropped a plan to amend several details of I-960 besides the tax-vote requirements. Instead, they chose to focus on the vote requirements – a move that was less severe than their decisions to fully suspend two education-funding initiatives in 2003 and again last year.

Rural Democratic Sens. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam and Brian Hatfield of Raymond led the changed strategy, and it was the way a majority of the caucus preferred to go, according to Sen. Tracey Eide, Democrats’ floor leader. But it still drew thundering objections from Republicans, who said its emergency clause prevents a public referendum to overturn SB 6843 in November.

Republican Sen. Mike Carrell of Lakewood and others complained Democrats were “thwarting the will of the people.’’ But Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom of Medina said the circumstances of the state have changed dramatically since 51 percent of voters approved I-960 in November 2007, and the economic downturn has cost 225,000 jobs in the state. “This is not an easy vote, but it is the right vote,” Tom said. “We are in unprecedented times. How many of you have lived through a time like this? How many of you have family members that are unemployed, that are losing their jobs? I do,” said Sen. Eide, D-Federal Way. “Think about this. We are in a crisis. We need to think logically. And who do the people of this state turn to when they need help? To you, me, all of us. They turn to us.”

The vote on I-960 is needed to free up action on other measures to raise revenue. For instance, the House is waiting to act on a bill that closes several tax “loopholes.” Among those is House Bill 3176, which will be heard in the House Finance Committee. HB 3176 would raise $205 million in the budget year ending in June 2011, according to Rep. Ross Hunter, the Medina Democrat who sponsored the bill and is the chairman of the Finance Committee. The bill closes a tax break that was widened by a 2009 Supreme Court ruling in the Dot Foods case; it also adds an excise tax to privately owned airplanes, eliminates a sales tax break for out-of-state residents who shop in Washington, and imposes other taxes on out-of-state firms that do a certain minimum amount of business in Washington.

Numerous other tax proposals are on the table, including a tripling of a hazardous-materials tax that would mainly hit oil refiners and makes of pesticides; a cigarette tax increase; and taxes on candy, bottled water and other products.

Hospitals also have a proposal for increasing the tax, or “assessment,” they pay as a way to generate a larger matching payment by the federal government.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown has not ruled out broader taxes on businesses instead.

Whatever happens with I-960, Republican Sen. Cheryl Pflug of Maple Valley warned in a floor speech that lawmakers face “a wall of rage” from voters if they repeal or suspend I-960.

Democrats say that misses a larger point. Hatfield, a conservative Democrat, said in an interview before the vote that Democrats face voter anger no matter what they do. He said lawmakers already cut several billion in spending last year, which affected law enforcement and drug-prevention efforts in his district. “I think we get a wall of rage either way. If we vote for another all-cuts budget, we’ll have a wall of rage,” Hatfield said. “The easy thing to do is say, ‘Let someone else solve the problem’ and vote no. That’s irresponsible.”

 

http://www.theolympian.com/southsound/story/1132118.html

Dems: YOU PEASANTS JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Many of you have inquired about the status of the I 1053 and I 960 issue. I’m posting the email I just received from Tim Eyman on this matter and I hope this answers some of your questions.
RE: Democrats aren’t bound by votes, not even their own — “you peasants don’t understand, the rules don’t apply to us”

A vote on the floor of the Senate yesterday by the Democrats eliminated the 2/3’s legislative vote requirement for tax increases. Voters have approved that law 3 times and that 2/3’s law has survived 4 court challenges — the voters are clearly on record demanding that that be the law.

Nonetheless, Democrats in Olympia took it away yesterday without hesitation — they are clearly planning on violating that voter-approved law in the coming weeks and during all of next year’s legislative session after the election.

But in their zeal to steal more of the taxpayers money, they realized after their vote, that the citizenry would learn of their treachery because of I-960’s transparency provisions.

So now they’re saying yesterday’s vote doesn’t count. Now they’ve ordained they’re entitled to a ‘do-over’ vote, eliminating not just the 2/3’s vote requirement, but all of I-960’s sunshine policies, especially the bills’ costs and legislators’ voting records.

Democrats in Olympia aren’t bound by 3 votes of the people, nor are they bound by their own vote yesterday. They are above the law, above the rules, above reproach, above criticism.

With their dictatorial, banana republic approach to governing, why are they even having another vote? Why not just ‘decree’ that Democrats don’t have to follow the law, aren’t required to follow senate rules and cut-off dates, and don’t have to disclose the costs, hearing dates, sponsorship, and voting records of legislators? Why are they even pretending to follow the rules or abide by the Constitution? Such strictures only apply to us mere mortals, not to the demi-gods in the Democrat party.

During the debate on the Senate floor yesterday, Democrats didn’t even allow for a full discussion, voting to cut-off and truncate debate. Rodney Tom’s exasperated “let’s get on with it” captured perfectly the Democrats’ arrogance.

Citizens worked for 300 days to qualify and pass I-960, waited nearly a year for a unanimous state supreme court rejecting Lisa Brown’s lawsuit, and yet Democrats whined about spending a couple of hours discussing the ramifications and implications of eviscerating this 3 time voter-approved policy.

The Democrats’ scheme is to screw over the taxpayers, while making sure we never find out who screwed us and by how much.

The most effective, constructive, meaningful response to their arrogance? Committing ourselves to getting Initiative 1053 on the ballot and resurrecting the 2/3’s vote requirement for tax increases.

Let their arrogance fuel your efforts.

Petitions are printed and were mailed last Friday to our thousands of supporters throughout the state.  You can request petitions at: www.voterswantmorechoices.com

SB 6843

February 3, 2010 Leave a comment

This, another example of how our rights are under attack.  I guess I will have to drop everything to attend this very important meeting.  

Folks, our “representatives” are on a rampage.  They know they’re in trouble in November and they are doing everything they can now to destroy our legislative process.  If we lose this, we will no longer have the right to speak in OUR house.

Please attend this meeting if you are able.

Just today, Senate Leader Lisa Brown told the press that there will be a public hearing tomorrow on SB 6843, a bill that will cripple I-960.

Legislators are looking to go beyond simply ‘suspending’ I-960, attempting instead to amend it, therefore changing it completely. Details on what the amendment will do can be found at www.libertylive.org.

It has only been two years since the people of Washington voted this initiative into law and our legislators are already trying to gut some of its most critical components, permanently! You can make a difference! Please attend the public hearing tomorrow in Olympia at 1:30pm and show your support for I-960.

EFF’s economic policy expert, Amber Gunn, will be testifying. When you arrive, be sure to do two things: 1. Sign In – As you sign in, you will have the opportunity to mark whether you support or oppose the bill. This goes into record and is a way to influence the outcome without testifying. 2. Indicate if you want to testify or not – You don’t have to say a lot; just share your perspective as a taxpayer. It will make a big difference.

What: Public Hearing on SB 6843 (amending I-960) Where: Senate Hearing Rm 4, J.A. Cherberg Building, Olympia, WA When: Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 1:30pm (arrive early at 1:00pm) 

If you cannot make it to the hearing tomorrow, please contact your legislators and tell them to oppose SB 6843!

HB 2778 THE ONE THAT ALMOST GOT AWAY….

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

GOAL ALERT 1-2010                                                          1 February 2010

One almost slipped past us! 

House Bill 2778 appears to adopt federal restrictions on firearm possession in cases of domestic violence or “no-contact” or other family-related restraining orders.

Federal law is already bad enough.  Banning possession of firearms, a fundamental constitutional right, for a misdemeanor simple assault conviction is already unconscionable.  The same is true with regard to firearm bans on individuals subject to certain restraining orders — individuals who have committed no crime whatsoever.

But HB 2778 goes much further than that.  Bill sponsors claim the bill merely incorporate the federal prohibitions into state law.  But rather than simply quote federal law, or cite it in existing Washington law, it adds entirely new language that far exceeds the already oppressive federal restrictions.

From the NRA Legislative Counsel:

            Adding “harassment” to the provisions of the federal DV law would exceed the scope of the federal law.  “Harassment” under Washington law may not even contain an element of the use of or threatened use of force. 

            “Family or household members” as defined in RCW 9.41.040(2) is broader than the definitions of “intimate partner” in federal law. 

            The surrender of firearms and prohibitions contained in RCW 9.41.800 would apply to ex parte restraining orders, where the subject of the order would not even have the opportunity to defend him- or herself. 

HB 2778 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on 21 January.  It was subjected to a hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee today (1 February) and will likely come out of that committee in a few days.  Then it goes to the full House for a floor vote by all Representatives. 

You are urged to call both of your Representatives and ask them to oppose this poorly drafted legislation. 

A substitute MAY be offered that would limit the impact of the bill to that of federal law.  While that is infinitely preferable to the version under consideration at this time, the bottom line is, do we really want to deny a fundamental constitutional right to someone who has not been convicted of a serious crime?  Or in the case of a restraining order, NO CRIME?

You may contact your Representatives via the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or directly via the contact information available at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Default.aspx 

When your legislative district pops up, it will include links to your Representatives’ web site, with office and e-mail addresses and direct telephone numbers. 

In no way does our opposition to HB 2778 imply we condone domestic violence, in any form.   This is simply a poorly written bill that does not deserve serious consideration.

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