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Skyrocketing car tab fees prompt state lawmakers to take emergency action

PARKLAND, Wash. - The outrage over skyrocketing car tabs is being heard in both houses of the state legislature.

The Senate held a special meeting Monday on bills to lower those fees. A top leader in the House is on-board with this.

"Absolutely, I'm working on my own bill," Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-House transportation chair, said. "Yes."

Clibborn says she's working on a comparable bill to the senate's efforts to do something about the higher car tabs that just started to be collected this month.

"I think that's unconstitutional," Faith Bailey, a car tab purchaser, said.

Bailey saw her car tabs jump from $82 last year to $175 this year, due mainly to the expansion of light rail and other modes of public transportation through the "Sound Transit 3" plan in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

"That's quite a jump for me," Bailey said. "I'm on a fixed income."

The licensing agents say they're taking the brunt of the public's anger and it's not their doing.

"We've had to call 911 to have them removed because they think it's our fault," said Jena Beauchene of Parkland Auto Licensing. "They think that we're making the money off of it."

"The reality of what we're talking about with the car tabs is it is just blatantly unfair," testified Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish. "It's not right."

The state senate held an urgent meeting to deal with the complaints that have inundated their phones. Several leading senators say Sound Transit is using an outdated calculation of your vehicle's value that makes it higher than it actually is and thus you're paying a higher rate than you should.

"We hear your concerns about this and want to work with you on this problem," Brian McCartan, Sound Transit CFO testified.

The senators are pushing bills to get rid of the calculations or at least modify them to a fairer method.

"I'm optimistic we're going to be a able to move the car tab bill through, said Sen. Steve O'Ban, R-Lakewood. "There's such a strong strong outcry for relief."

Rep. Clibborn agrees some version of help will be passed.

"It is not Blue Book but it is different and much more comfortable level," Clibborn said.

Sound Transit says any changes have to legally fall in line with the requirements of the bonds that were sold to pay for Sound Transit 3.

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