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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Lawmakers Consider Enshrining Supermajority Votes For Tax Hikes

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Supreme Court is expected to rule any week now on the constitutionality of supermajority votes for tax hikes. Meanwhile, Tuesday the budget committee in the Washington Senate took testimony on a proposal to enshrine that two-thirds threshold in the state constitution.

Proponents view it as a permanent taxpayer protection. But human services lobbyist Lonnie Johns-Brown told the Republican-led panel a constitutional amendment is unnecessary.

“Why would you enshrine such a policy in the constitution when you have every power now to carry it forward when you have the majority, and not bind your hands permanently?” she asked.

In the past, Democratic majorities in the Washington legislature have suspended the two-thirds threshold in order to pass tax hikes with a simple majority vote. Washington voters have repeatedly said it should take a supermajority vote of the legislature to raise taxes – most recently last November.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."