King County judge stops implementation of I-976 to reduce vehicle tab fees | Update

Ferguson, Constantine and Eyman respond to ruling

  • Wednesday, November 27, 2019 12:44pm
  • Northwest

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Tim Eyman each released statements after King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday delaying the implementation of Initiative 976.

“This is not a final judgment, and this case is far from over,” Ferguson said. “We will continue working to defend the will of the voters. This case will ultimately wind up before the State Supreme Court. We are working now to determine our immediate next steps.”

Voters approved I-976 on Nov. 5 to lower vehicle tab fees to $30 per year. The measure was scheduled to go into effect Dec. 5. Sound Transit, the state and numerous cities use car tab fees to help pay for project. Sound Transit officials already have said they plan to keep collecting the fee on projects already approved.

“Bob Ferguson sabotages I-976 from within,” said Eyman, who led the drive to approve I-976. “Jay Inslee must call special session. Do not pay!”

King County, Seattle and several other groups filed a lawsuit after the initiative passed to overturn the measure because it violates the state Constitution. The groups also filed for the temporary injunction to let the outcome play out in the courts.

“We believe the court is correct in recognizing that I-976 is likely unconstitutional and ruling that the initiative would cause irreparable harm,” Constantine said. “The city of Seattle has committed that it will not cut Metro service hours funded by the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District, so that residents can continue to depend on fast, reliable transit.

“Despite today’s ruling, Metro continues to face the prospect of reduced state and regional funding for buses, RapidRide, vanpool and other services, including Access paratransit, a lifeline for residents with disabilities.”

The Attorney General’s Office is defending the initiative. Click here to read the brief opposing the preliminary injunction.

Plaintiffs argued the I-976 violates the prohibition on single subject, and improperly attempted to win support by hiding unpopular provisions among more popular ones, without clearly spelling out what some of those provisions were, according to a news release from King County Executive Dow Constantine. In addition to being misleading, voters would no longer be able to approve local transportation-related investments as the need arises, according to the suit. The suit claims the initiative would “decimate funding particularly for local transportation and transit projects, including many that have already been approved by local voters.”

City of Seattle and Sound Transit voters approved measures that increased vehicle tab fees.

“We will continue to fight to ensure this region – where I-976 was defeated by a nearly 20-point margin – will face as few service disruptions as possible,” Constantine said. “It is critical that the Legislature act to provide better, more popular revenue alternatives to the current vehicle fees, and maintain the state’s commitment to fund its share of transportation projects until the Supreme Court has rendered a final decision on the constitutionality of I-976.”


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