$30 car-tab fight shaping up in Washington legislature

    Washington Car Tabs (KOMO Photo)

    A new bill was introduced Friday to reduce car-tab fees, but not as far as the $30 car tabs in Initiative-976, which qualified for the November ballot.

    For nearly two years, car and truck owners have been furious over how expensive their tabs are. "They need to be lower," said car-tab buyer Joe Russell. "And they're supposed to be lower and we the people demand that they be lower."

    It all began when voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties narrowly approved paying more in order to expand Sound Transit programs such as light rail to Tacoma and Everett.

    "I don't mind paying a little bit more," said car tab buyer Mary Ann Miller. "But when your tabs triple in cost, it is just ridiculous."

    "My bill does what we've been trying to do for the last few years," said state Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way. He said he feels their pain and introduced a new bill that ties vehicle values to the Kelley Blue Book.

    "The bill fixes the car tab valuation, keeps light rail on track," said Pellicciotti. "That's what I think the public expects and I think we can get it through this session."

    "That's great," said Miller. "Good. We're moving in the right direction."

    It comes at the same time the Tim Eyman's I-976 has qualified for the November ballot for a return to $30 tabs. It is a campaign he has been fighting for 20 years. "How many times have we heard over the last 20 years 'what ever happened to our $30 car tabs?'" he said November 14 when he delivered signatures to the Secretary of State's elections office.

    "Thirty-dollar tabs," said Russell. "That's what we all voted for. That's what we want."

    Sound Transit light rail train (KOMO Photo)

    But Sound Transit said that would blow a $20 billion hole in the agency's budget and projects would need to be delayed or cancelled starting as early as next year. Sound Transit said the delayed projects would end up costing even more to complete because of inflation and more interest on higher borrowing.

    State Sen. Steve O'Ban (R-University Place) predicted the backlash when lawmakers failed to get a solution that last two sessions. "By not passing car tab-tax relief earlier, the voters have responded."

    The $30 tab initiative and Rep. Pellicciotti's bill are both expected to get public hearings on Tuesday. It is entirely possible you could see both measures on the ballot in November.

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