Thanks to Washington State Supreme Court ruling, bills for public financing of Supreme Court races may be back on track

February 28th, 2013 by Bill Raftery Leave a reply »

Earlier today the Washington State Supreme Court struck down a state statute that requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the legislature in order to impose a tax increase. (h/t How Appealing) In a roundabout way, this may mean a return of proposals for public financing of state supreme court races.

First, some background.

The first efforts at public financing for Washington Supreme Court elections started in the 2007/2008 session with HB 1186 and the similar HB 3336. HB 1186 made it out of committee in 2007, was carried over into the 2008 session, but died at the end of that year.

The 2009/2010 session is where the 2/3rds for a tax increase statute struck down today by the Washington Supreme Court came into play. HB 1738 / SB 5912 of that session both advanced out of their various committees and were set to be voted on by their respective chambers. However the public financing system proposed in both bills was based on a $3 fee on court filings. On February 10, 2010 the state’s Lieutenant Governor ruled, as President of the Senate, the additional $3 charge for filing fees was a tax, not a fee, and therefore subject to the 2/3rds requirement. That ended SB 5912′s advancement and the House bill was effectively killed as well.

Another version of the bill was refiled for the 2011/2012 session (HB 1898 / SB 5010) but neither advanced out of committee.

So far the proposals have not been reintroduced in the 2013/2014 session.

Leave a Reply