Chapman: Bond supermajority requirement unlikely to change

PORT ANGELES — Don’t expect the 60 percent supermajority required for voter approval of school bond measures to change to a lower threshold anytime soon.

The problem is, bonds are funded by property taxes, 24th District state Rep. Mike Chapman said Tuesday.

“There is property tax fatigue in the Legislature. It’s a heavy lift.”

Chapman, who represents Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County, delivered the message earlier Tuesday to members of the Port Angeles Business Association during an update of goings-on in Olympia.

The 105-day state legislative session begins Monday.

Even approval by lawmakers of lowering the threshold of passage of bond measures to 55 percent is unlikely during the session, said the Port Angeles Democrat.

A proposal to do exactly that already died on the Senate floor in 2018.

School districts and other taxing districts “can do almost anything” with a simple majority, Chapman said.

A simple majority is required for levy measures, and it’s a rare bond in Clallam and Jefferson counties that is not favored by more than 50 percent of voters.

“It’s just sad,” he said.

The supermajority requirement is contained in the state constitution, which had a simple majority requirement until World War II, when it was changed to 60 percent.

Two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate would have to approve lowering the supermajority requirement, after which it would have to be approved by a simple majority of voters.

The difference in approval thresholds between bonds and other measures can put some efforts in limbo.

Voters in Sequim on Nov. 6 approved formation of a library capital facility tax district by a 65 percent to 35 percent margin.

It required a simple majority for approval, or 50 percent plus one vote.

They rejected a $12.4 million bond proposal to finance expansion of the library, 58 percent to 42 percent.

Chapman said Democrats holds a 57-41 majority in the state House and a 28-21 majority in the state Senate.

Democrats hold a 28-21 majority in the state Senate.

There’s just not enough of a supermajority of legislators to make the change happen, Chapman said.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected]