Wash. Senate starts clearing way for tax hikes

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The Legislature's Democratic majority is clearing the way for tax increases with its first major vote to brush aside Initiative 960.

In a 26-23 vote, the Senate moved to suspend until July 2011 the requirement that any tax increases get approval from two-thirds of the Legislature.

That's a difficult hurdle for lawmakers to clear. But the Legislature can amend initiatives two years after they go into effect, and majority Democrats say they need to raise taxes to help balance the state budget.

Republicans resisted the change, saying the majority was thwarting the will of voters.

The bill now heads to the House for further consideration. Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign it into law, which must happen before Democrats can start passing tax increases.