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State House Democrats introduce five new bills aimed at lowering skyrocketing car tabs

State House Democrats have introduced five new bills to lower car tabs after new fees went into effect March 1 to help fund Sound Transit 3 which will expand light rail and mass transit in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. (Photo: KOMO News)

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Momentum is building at the state capitol to help lower skyrocketing car tab fees that are angering vehicle owners.

Five new bills have just been introduced after drivers said they've been experiencing sticker shock.

This all started in just the last month, as car owners began renewing their tabs expiring in March.

On March 1, new fees kicked in to help fund Sound Transit 3, the effort to expand mass transit through King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

But, there's concern the taxes charged are too high.

At the Parkland Automobile Licenses office an employee was overheard telling a customer, "I'm really sorry."

But it's not their doing. It is the voter-approved measure that figures your car's value and uses that to calculate how much extra you owe to pay for expanding light rail and other mass transit projects for the next decade.

"What am I supposed to do about it?" asked Jon McLeese who bought his car tabs on Monday. "I voted against it. It still passed and they're still going to do it."

But, state lawmakers from both parties in both houses say they want the value calculations lowered, believing Sound Transit is using a chart that has values too high.

Sound transit says it's what the legislature and voters approved.

"I think legally, just because they can do it legally doesn't mean it's the right thing to do and I think the public wants a more accurate valuation schedule for their vehicles," sayd Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, (D-Federal Way).

Pellicciotti and four other democratic House members have just introduced bills to lower the car value calculations and make Sound Transit more responsive to the taxpayers.

"The legislation that I sponsored really is really about reform and making sure the three counties and all transit agencies within those counties, including Sound Transit, are working and using our tax dollars well," said Rep. Christine Kilduff, (D-University Place).

These House bills come on the heels of republican Senate bills introduced to do much the same thing. They're coming late in the session, but bill sponsors believe the urgency will get them through.

"I think we'll have a bipartisan solution, we certainly should have, a bipartisan solution that the governor has to sign to provide real tax relief to motorists," said Sen. Steve O'Ban (R-Lakewood).

Susan Felizardo is renewing three vehicles in Pierce County and is eager to see that tax relief.

"It seems to be benefiting King county more than Pierce county so why are we paying it?" she said.

A tricky part about this is that if the car tabs are reduced, might that negatively impact the bonds that Sound Transit has to pay back over the next decade and might some transit programs need to get cut? Those questions yet to be answered.


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