State lawmakers clash on competing bills to lower car tabs

State lawmakers who are trying to lower the car tabs are on a collision course with their competing bills. (KOMO News)

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State lawmakers who are trying to lower the car tabs are on a collision course with their competing bills. Republicans say the Democrats' solution doesn't go far enough.

"When are you going to reduce our car tab taxes?" Republican Sen. Steve O'Ban says he gets that question more than any other.

He and Republican House Member Mark Harmsworth say they have the real solution: tie the car values to the Kelley Blue Book reducing tabs by 55 percent. "It is the only real car tab tax reduction," he said at a news conference Thursday.

Democrats disagree with the House just passing their own version of the car tab reduction last week and sending the bill to the now Democrat-controlled Senate

It is a more modest reduction in the tab fees with sponsors saying they didn't want to cripple what the tab increases are for: Sound Transit's efforts known as ST-3 to extend rail and bus services to outlying areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Sen. Steve Hobbs, Democrat Chair of the Transportation Committee issued a statement saying, "Senator O'Ban's bills are unthoughtful sledgehammers that don't solve the problem, create new problems and do not meet the promise we made to voters."

"Mine is not a sledgehammer," O'Ban said. "Mine is real car tax relief."

Harmsworth agrees even though he voted for the House Democrat bill.

"Because I'll take what I can get. If I can get 10 percent for now and work on this I'll absolutely do that. I'm not going to go home with nothing," Harmsworth said.

Car owner George Hight said he doesn't care how they do it. He just wants the tabs lowered. His went up $102.

"If they can have one bill that can be agreed upon and go through and lessen the burden down here in Pierce County," Hight said.

Democrats who now control the Senate say they'll get the House bill rolling despite the bickering from the Republican party which they call a political stunt.

But O'Ban says his other bills are also stalled. The bill to require Sound Transit board members be elected has not made it out of committee and the bill putting a cap on ST-3 at $54 billion has not been given a hearing at all.

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