Rain blew sideways off Capitol Lake as the first Tweets, just before 9 a.m., suggested the upside-down politics of Olympia this year would be upended again.
The Supreme Court shredded Initiative 1053, decrying the initiative’s two-thirds super-majority requirement for new taxes as “enabling a tyranny of the minority.”
In Olympia this year, the definition of tyrannical minority has depended on your flavor of politics. Republicans, technically a minority, are now the Majority Coalition. Democrats, withered by two defections, are the majority-minority, and chafe at what they describe is a tyranny.
Democrats couldn’t help but take a victory lap.
Yes, Democrats are happy. State Rep. Laurie Jinkins jokes that “later today, we’ll do a dramatic reading of the decision.” #waleg
— Brian M. Rosenthal (@brianmrosenthal) February 28, 2013
(Jinkins, D-Tacoma, was a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging I-1053.)
The Supreme Court said a super-majority for taxes would have to occur via constitutional amendment. Sen. Rodney Tom, the Medina Democrat who engineered the Republican coup, quickly disagreed, suggesting the Senate may simply change rules to require the two-third level.
But his fellow Republicans seemed to just as quickly throw him under the bus: Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, showed up at a press conference wearing a demanding that constitutional amendment. Late in the day, the Majority Coalition passed a bill out of the Ways & Means committee calling for an amendment.
Rep. Chris Hurst, moderate Democrat from Enumclaw, said the Supreme Court will “regret their choice of words” in referring to the super-majority rule – embraced by voters at least four in separate initiatives – as “tyranny of the minority.” The line smacks of political bomb-throwing, not judicial sobriety.
The biggest bomb thrower, Tim Eyman, used to show up in a gorilla suit for press conferences. Thursday, he wore a brown suit and long face. He repeated “1.9 million voters” – the number who voted for the initiative the Supreme Court tossed out – at least five times. He didn’t call Gov. Jay Inslee “a lying whore,” as he did last week.
As Tim Eyman walked away from the press outside the Capitol – the biggest clue this was an upside-down day in Olympia – Sen. Adam Kline, who had stepped outside for a cigarette, taunted him. “Tim, where is the fraud in the budget?” said Kline. “All these (tax-cutting initiatives) are premised on fraud, waste and abuse being in the budget.”
Eyman kept walking. “Can’t tell, Tim?” Kline yelled. He then turned to the reporters and blasted Eyman’s initiative – the one endorsed by 1.9 million voters – for “encoding the tyranny of the minority” in state law.