State Senate passes car tab relief bill, but measure could face challenges in House
OLYMPIA, Wash. - The State Senate narrowly approved a bill Thursday evening to provide car tab relief to vehicle owners in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties as part of the Sound Transit-3 program. The bill (SB-5893) passed along party lines 25-24.
It would tie a vehicle's value to the Kelley Blue Book or similar formula, not the higher value now used by Sound Transit.
Democrats voted against the bill because there's concern it will run into a legal challenge.
"Sticker shock" is the reaction from people when they renew their tabs, which are sometimes double or triple from last year.
The increased car tab fees are to help extend light rail and mass transit service into Snohomish and Pierce counties along with several other transit projects. But, lawmakers from both parties in both houses say Sound Transit is using an outdated, unfair means of calculating those tabs, causing a vehicle's value to be too high.
Now Gov. Jay Inslee is joining in. On Thursday he said he hopes, "Legislators can fashion relief of some degree that can respond to that public sentiment at the same time without jeopardizing the financial underpinning of following the voters' intent of building this project from Everett to Tacoma."
"What I propose was the Kelley Blue Book or the National Auto Dealers Association because that's the real value," said Sen. Dino Rossi, (R-Sammamish).
But, democrats worry the Kelley Blue Book won't be legally allowed.
"Senator O'Ban and Senator Rossi are firmly into their Kelley Blue Book ADA idea. It's going to require some compromise," said San. Marko Liias, (D-Lynnwood).
But, after the Liias amendment failed, which would have tied vehicle valuations to a formula devised by the legislature in 2006, the bill authored by Sen. O'Ban won out.
The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled House, which has given warnings that it will not accept the Kelley Blue Book solution because of fears it'll get hung up in court.