A bill to ensure that voters in a water-sewer district retain ultimate control over whether a city or town can assume jurisdiction of their district has passed the Senate and awaits action in the House of Representatives.

“We have seen takeovers in the past that have been controversial, divisive and costly,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline and the sponsor of Senate Bill 6008. “It’s time to update the laws to make sure that any changes in jurisdictional authority properly recognize the will of the people.”

SB 6008 would update state laws to ensure that current-day assumptions reflect the values of Article II of the State Constitution, which states that “the people reserve to themselves the power to propose bills, laws and to enact or reject the same at the pools, 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.”

SB 6008 passed the Senate on a 37-10 vote and is scheduled for a public hearing Monday before the House Local Government Committee.  It provides a referendum clause that, should the Ronald Board of Commissioners agree to the assumption of the sewer district by the City of Shoreline, gives the voting ratepayers who established the Ronald Sewer District the right to put the assumption to a vote of the people if they secure the signatures of 10 percent of those voters.

“This bill will ensure that the democratic process can work the way it was meant to work,” Chase said. “Let the people vote. If it’s truly in the public’s best interest for the City of Shoreline to assume the Ronald Sewer District, then the Ronald Board of Commissioners should have nothing to fear from a vote by the ratepayers.”

Utility taxes are among the most regressive taxes levied on citizens. For example, low-income working families pay 17 percent of their income in taxes compared to wealthy families who pay only 2.8 percent.

“Our state, sadly, has the most regressive system of taxation in the United States,” Chase said. “We are Number 1 in taxing poor people and Number 50 in taxing wealthy people. This backwards policy must be reversed, and this bill is a good first start.”