ELECTION 2011: Constitutional amendments

September 19, 2011 

Senate Joint Resolution 8205

This amendment would remove an inoperative provision from the state constitution regarding the length of time a voter must reside in Washington to vote for president and vice president. Should this constitutional amendment be

q Approved

q Rejected

When voters receive their mail-in ballots for the Nov. 8, general election ballots, they will be asked to vote on two proposed constitutional amendments.

The Olympian’s editorial board encourages “yes” votes on both measures.

Senate Joint Resolution 8205 passed the state Legislature this year with unanimous votes in the state Senate and House of Representatives. It’s a straight-forward, uncomplicated measure.

Article VI, Section 1A of the state constitution says that voters must have lived in the state for 30 days to vote in an election.

But there is a provision that says people must live here a full 60 days before the presidential election in order to cast a ballot for that office.

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that any requirement that voters live in a particular place longer than 30 days in order to vote is unconstitutional.

Washington’s Supreme Court has held that the lower, 30-day residency requirement applies to presidential primary elections, but there is a need to clean up the state constitution and remove the 60-day residency requirement for presidential elections.

That’s precisely what Senate Joint Resolution 8205 does.

It’s a mere housekeeping measure that removes the outdated 60-day rule from the state constitution and makes the 30-day residency requirement standard for all elections.

Voters should cast a “yes” vote for SJR 8205 on Nov. 8.

Senate Joint Resolution 8206 forces state lawmakers to stash additional money in the state’s savings account when the economy is booming and revenue is flowing into state coffers.

Voters approved the so-called “rainy day fund” savings account in 2007. Now, with SJR 8206, voters are being asked to approve a measure that should add to the amount of money set aside by lawmakers to deal with financial downturns.

The Olympian’s editorial board encourages a “yes” vote on SJR 8206 in November.

Under the state constitution, every June 30 at the end of the fiscal year, lawmakers must transfer to the “budget stabilization account” an amount of money that is equal to 1 percent of general state revenue for that year.

Lawmakers may transfer an additional sum of money into the savings account with their favorable vote, but the 1 percent mandate is set in the constitution.

That same constitutional provision allows lawmakers to dip into the savings account if the governor has declared a state of emergency or in a year when state employment growth is estimated to be less than 1 percent. Additionally, if the account balance exceeds 10 percent of estimated state revenue for that fiscal year, the Legislature, by majority vote, can transfer the amount above the 10 percent level into the state’s education construction fund.

We’ve seen the importance of that savings account in recent years when lawmakers have been forced to make serious budget cuts because of stagnant revenue due to the economic recession.

SJR 8206 forces lawmakers to set aside more money when times are good and state coffers are flush.

Under this ballot proposal anytime the state is experiencing “extraordinary revenue growth,” lawmakers would be required to transfer three-fourths of that additional revenue into the savings account. The measure defines what constitutes “extraordinary revenue growth.” In essence the measure says that when revenue exceeds 133 percent of historical average growth, the money must be saved rather than spent.

That’s sound fiscal discipline.

Voters should vote “yes” on SJR 8206 on Nov. 8.

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