State tax increases up for voter review this November

The Washington Secretary of State’s office announced it has been told by the state’s attorney general that two tax measures approved during the last session of the state Legislature will be on the ballot during the upcoming general election.

This marks the first time tax measures in Washington state have been up for a public advisory vote after being cleared by lawmakers, according to the Secretary of State’s office. The public votes were triggered by Initiative 960, the measure led by political activist Tim Eyman that voters adopted in 2007. The initiative requires a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature to approve taxes, and it also requires approved taxes to be submitted to voters for review.

After seeing results of the advisory vote, lawmakers can revisit the issue or let their original votes stand, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

The two tax measures involve provisions in House Bill 2590, which deals with the state’s pollution liability insurance trust account, and Senate Bill 6635, a multifaceted bill dealing with tax preferences that includes a provision removing special tax treatment for certain large banks. In lawmakers’ debates, the banking provision was described as an $18 million boost to the state treasury, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Both bills, which were deemed as tax increases, passed with wide vote margins in the 2012 Legislative session. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed both bills on May 2.

The HB2590 text is here: The SB6635 text is here:

The two measures will be titled as Tax Advisory Proposition Numbers 1 and 2 on the general election ballot, and the state’s attorney general will prepare brief descriptions of each, according to Shane Hamlin, the state’s elections co-director.

Other ballot propositions before voters this year include:

-Referendum 74, to affirm or reject the new legislation permitting civil marriage for same-sex couples.

-Initiative 1240, authorizing up to 40 charter schools to form in Washington over the next five years.

-Initiative 1185, a plan by Tim Eyman to re-impose the previously approved requirement for a supermajority two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature for boosting taxes without a vote of the people. This concept has been adopted four times previously, but the state constitution allows the Legislature to amend, suspend or abolish initiatives after two years have passed.

-Initiative to the Legislature 502, decriminalizing marijuana for those 18 and older.

-Two constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by state lawmakers: SJR 8221 deals with stricter limits on use of bond debt for state projects, SJR 8223 deals with investments by the University of Washington and Washington State University.

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