Hidden deep in the recesses of the 2010 Washington State budget is a piece of failed legislation that requires publicly funded State Supreme Court races. The bill is now "referenced in the budget." That means the budget cannot be passed without this bill so..even though the billed died on the Senate floor last week...it must be voted on and passed to implement the budget.
SB----( I will fill in the number tomorrow...don't have it with me right now), was heard in the Senate Governmental Operations and Elections Committee of which I am the ranking member. Public funding of ANY elections has been a hot button issue championed by Sen. Erik Omig who is also on the committee. His bill was the last one out of executive session. Sen. Craig Pridmore was late and not present for most of the ex session. The bill was brought up last so he could have time to arrive for the vote. He threw his coat on, took his seat, and the bill passed out of committee on a party line vote.
When the bill came up for a vote in the full Senate...it was challenged as being improperly before the body. Why? Because there was a tax involved. I-960 had not yet been repealed. The President, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, ruled that the bill was, in fact, a tax and so the bill was put down.
In order to pass a budget you need a majority of the 49 votes. So, $200,000 was added to the budget for public financing of Supreme Court races...the bill was referenced in the budget...and now it could be brought up again. Since I-960 has now been repealed the fact of a tax does not matter any more.
This is a terrible bill. It was not even heard in the House (as though that would matter to the majority) and you won't find a negative statement about it in the floor calendar which many legislators read before they vote on a bill.
Justice Richard Sanders wrote the Gov. Ops Committee members an articulate letter siting problems with the bill. None of that information found its way into the floor calendar. Very convenient actually, and shows how bills are manipulated by the Democrat majority. Just don't mention anything bad and hopefully no one will see it!
The bill is unconstitutional....but won't be found as such in time for this year's Supreme Court races which the left wants to manipulate.