[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, the Washington Supreme Court ruled [text] today that lawmakers did not violate the state constitution or a teacher-pay initiative by eliminating state financing for one of three paid non-classroom "learning improvement days." The lawsuit, filed by the Washington Education Association [association website] and teachers and taxpayers from several districts, argued [WEA press release] that the move violated the constitution's requirement for full funding of basic education and Initiative 732 which requires annual cost-of-living increases for teachers. The court found that learning improvement days are not necessarily a component of the basis education to be provided by the state and that Initiative 732 should be calculated on the base of 180 days, not counting training days. Assistant Attorney General David Stolier said the decision was important in defining the Legislature's power to set education policy and goals. AP has more.
In other state legal news ...
- 15 states, including California, New York [Attorney General press release] and Illinois, have filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Energy [official website], alleging that the department is violating a congressional directive requiring officials to periodically boost efficiency standards for furnaces, clothes dryers and 20 other common household appliances. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller [AG press release] argued that the updated efficiency standards are critical as the nation struggles with rising energy costs, and that revised standards would multiply energy savings. Energy department spokesman Craig Stevens said the energy bill [JURIST report] signed by President Bush has incentives for the manufacture of energy-efficient products. The Sioux City Journal has more.
- A Washington court of appeals has ruled [text] that a state law prohibiting political candidates from lying about their opponents is unconstitutional. In striking down the truth-in-campaigning law [text] as a violation of the 1st amendment's protection of free speech, the state Court of Appeals Division II relied heavily on a 1998 state Supreme Court decision striking down a similar law that stated, "In this field every person must be his own watchman for truth, because the forefathers did not trust any government to separate the truth from the false for us." Attorneys for the Public Disclosure Commission [official website] argued that the law promotes credible campaigns. The case resulted from a 2002 state Senate race after which Sen. Tim Sheldon filed a complaint over his opponent's false statements about his voting record. The Seattle Times has local coverage.