WA Constitution

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Part I - WA Graduation Requirement

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Washington State Graduation Requirement : 

Washington State Graduation Requirement Part I: Washington State Constitution

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As you’ve recently discovered, the study of Washington state history and government is a graduation requirement. (ii) Under the provisions of RCW 28A.230.170 and 28A.230.090, one-half credit shall be required in Washington state history and government which shall include study of the Constitution of the state of Washington and is encouraged to include information on the culture, history, and government of the American Indian people who were the first inhabitants of the state. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to study. The following presentation is designed to help you learn more about the Washington State Constitution.

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Now it’s time to start the presentation. I recommend you respond to the questions as you proceed. READY TO BEGIN?

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Our state government in Olympia is patterned after the national government. It consists of 3 branches of government.

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The legislative branch is in charge of making laws. The state is divided into forty-nine districts. Each district elects 1 senator and two representatives to serve in the state legislature in Olympia. It is up to the judicial branch—the courts—to determine exactly what the laws mean. The state Supreme Court includes 9 judges who are elected by voters. The executive branch is headed by a governor and is responsible for carrying out the laws.

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If the Governor vetoes a bill, the Senate and House of Representatives can overide the veto and make the bill law. If the Senate and House of Representatives pass the same bill, it moves on to the Governor who can “sign” the bill and make it law. Then it is assigned to a committee that reviews the bill and decides whether it should “die” or move forward. First, a bill must be introduced by the Senate or House of Representatives. How are laws created? BILL Or the Govenor can veto the bill. BILL LAW VETO LAW

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ARTICLE II LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT SECTION 1 LEGISLATIVE POWERS, WHERE VESTED. The legislative authority of the state of Washington shall be vested in the legislature, consisting of a senate and house of representatives, which shall be called the legislature of the state of Washington, but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose bills, laws, and to enact or reject the same at the polls, independent of the legislature, and also reserve power, at their own option, to approve or reject at the polls any act, item, section, or part of any bill, act, or law passed by the legislature. Although our legislature makes laws on our behalf, the state constitution gives ordinary citizens some power to approve or reject laws.

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Voters want better roads! The legislature can get input from citizens through referendums that call for a public vote on bills that pass through Olympia. In addition, voters can approve or reject initiatives, which are bills proposed by citizens themselves. Critics argue that the impact of referendums and initiatives are often contradictory. For example, sometimes voters will approve new programs while capping or cutting taxes. Nevertheless, referendums and initiatives allow people to directly promote and participate in policy making. But reject taxes that help pay for the roads. Tim Eyman, political activist For instance…

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Speaking of taxes, Washington’s tax system is among the most “regressive” in the nation. In other words, middle-and lower-income wage earners spend a higher percentage of their income on taxes than the wealthy.

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ARTICLE VII REVENUE AND TAXATION SECTION 1 TAXATION. The power of taxation shall never be suspended, surrendered or contracted away. All taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax and shall be levied and collected for public purposes only. The word "property" as used herein shall mean and include everything, whether tangible or intangible, subject to ownership. The reason Washington has a regressive tax system is due to the state’s reliance on sales tax. Although Washington does impose property taxes, it is one of only four states with no form of income tax. Voters have previously approved an income tax, but the Washington State Supreme Court declared income taxes unconstitutional.

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In 1932, Washington’s Supreme Court defined income as a form of property. Consequently, income taxes have been invalidated because property taxes already existed. ARTICLE VII REVENUE AND TAXATION SECTION 1 TAXATION. The power of taxation shall never be suspended, surrendered or contracted away. All taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax and shall be levied and collected for public purposes only. The word "property" as used herein shall mean and include everything, whether tangible or intangible, subject to ownership. According to Washington’s constitution, taxes must be “uniform upon the same class of property.” Since land and income are considered a similar “class” of property, an income tax would create an additional property tax.

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State taxes pay for many resources, including roads, police and fire protection, libraries, public health services, job services, welfare support, and many other programs. However, education constitutes a major expenditure. 2009-2011 Proposed Expenditures for WA State Look at how much of the budget is dedicated to education.

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ARTICLE IXEDUCATION SECTION 1 PREAMBLE. It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders… Washington State is unique because it has made education a constitutional priority. In fact, education is listed as the state’s “paramount duty.”

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Each school district receives approximately the same dollar amount per pupil from the state. Most of the money schools receive is generated by taxes the state collects from retail sales and businesses. Property taxes represent another major source of funding. Communities may raise additional funds by levying local property taxes upon themselves to generate more money for educational services and programs. However, communities in wealthier urban areas tend to have an advantage because they enjoy a larger tax base. For example, notice the difference between Meridian, a small rural district, and Bellingham, a more urban district. Meridian School District Bellingham School District

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One of the goals of education is to prepare young adults to participate in the community. Soon you will have a chance to express your voice on important issues. Voting, taxes, education and other public policies play an important role in our lives as citizens. Get involved!

Citations : 

Citations Ammons, David. "Initiative Process Both Loved and Hated in Washington.” Seattle Times 18 July 2005. Web. 29 Dec. 2009. <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002387499_politics18m.html>. Washington: In the Pacific Northwest. Gibbs Smith, 2006. Web. 29 Dec. 2009. <http://www.experiencestatehistory.com/home.php>. Utter, Robert F., and Hugh D. Spitzer. The Washington State Constitution: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Press, 2002. Web. 29 Dec. 2009. "Washington School Finance Primer." Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction . Web. 29 Dec. 2009. <http://www.k12.wa.us/safs/PUB/PRI/primer99.pdf>. "Washington State Report Card." Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction . Web. 29 Dec. 2010. “Washington State Taxation.” HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington. Web. 28 Dec. 2009. <http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=5735>.

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