OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today made the following statement on the state’s oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of Initiative 747, now before the Washington Supreme Court.
“The judges asked very good questions and we’re encouraged that they will uphold the will of Washington voters who approved property tax relief through Initiative 747,” McKenna said. “We must preserve the right of the people to use the power of initiative in establishing law without being unfairly hampered by inappropriate, hyper- technical arguments.”
The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday concerning the constitutionality of I-747, which sets that taxing districts cannot increase their tax levy more than 1 percent a year unless voters approve more. Initiative 747 was filed in January 2001 and approved in November 2001 by 57 percent of the people.
On June 13, 2006, Judge Mary Roberts, King County Superior Court, declared the initiative unconstitutional. Roberts decided I-747 was unconstitutional because it amended I-722, a law that was declared unconstitutional in September 2001, long after I-747 had been filed and circulated and just two months before it was approved by voters.
The Attorney General’s Office appealed that decision. The state argued that the constitution does not require initiative drafters to predict that the underlying law might be invalidated when they file their initiative and begin collecting signatures.
“If you accurately state the law as it exists when the initiative passes and you haven’t falsely stated prior law, then you’ve complied with the constitution,” said Deputy Solicitor General Jim Pharris, who served on the legal team defending the initiative.
Brief of Appellants
Reply Brief of Appellants
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