In November 2019, Washington voters approved Initiative 976, which calls for $30 car tabs. Sound Publishing file photo

In November 2019, Washington voters approved Initiative 976, which calls for $30 car tabs. Sound Publishing file photo

Republicans try to guarantee $30 car tabs amid court hangup

Lawmakers sponsor companion bills in the House and Senate.

By Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service

As Initiative 976 is held up in the State Supreme Court, Republicans have proposed laws that would guarantee the $30 car tabs that Washington voters approved this past November.

“It is just a clean $30 car tab,” said Sen Phil Fortunado (R-Auburn). “That’s what people voted for, that’s what we’re doing.”

Unlike I-976, which is facing a court fight over its constitutionality, Fortunado said his sponsored bill, Senate Bill 6350, is simple in nature and will likely not be challenged in court.

“It removes any ambiguity about multiple subjects,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jesse Young (R-Gig Harbor) and Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) are sponsoring House Bill 2227, a companion bill.

Republicans were critical of Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed transportation budget appropriations to continue funding public transit following the passing of I-976.

“This is a professional, real approach, that stands in stark contrast to the lazy approach that is being put forth by the governor that simply says we are going to punish voters because they didn’t vote the way we wanted them to,” Young said.

Walsh suggested cutting or delaying lower priority projects and administrative expenditures to help balance the budget after lost car tab revenue. Walsh said that voters “want us to find efficiencies in the state transportation budget that are necessary to make the $30 tab renewal a reality. We can prioritize our spending without penalizing high needs individuals and their transit needs.”

King County

Voters in King County soundly rejected Initiative 976, but on the Eastside, the results were much tighter.

Several Eastside cities voted to approve I-976. They were largely cities that will see comparatively fewer investments from Sound Transit’s light rail rollout. The cluster of wealthy towns in west Bellevue also largely approved the initiative: Medina, Clyde Hill and Hunts Point all saw majorities vote to approve the initiative, while Beaux Arts Village voted to reject it. The two largest cities that voted in favor of the initiative were Sammamish and Bothell. Opposition to I-976 was strong on Mercer Island, which has had residents vocally oppose the planned light rail station for a number of reasons. These include concerns over traffic, the fact that all Eastside buses currently heading to Seattle will stop on the island to transfer to light rail, and worries over crime.

Voters in South King County cities uniformly approved Initiative 976 in contrast to most Eastside cities and Seattle.

In South King County, the cities of Kent, Renton, Federal Way and Auburn saw the largest number of voters turn out. In Kent, some 7,564 voters approved the initiative, while 4,255 voted against it. In Federal Way, it was the same story, with 6,322 ballots cast in approval, while 3,437 were opposed.

Some 6,431 people voted in favor of I-976 in Renton, while 4,123 voted against it. In the King County portion of Auburn, the initiative passed easily with 4,819 voting in support and 2,232 voting against it.

In King County, 40.53% of voters approved the initiative, while 59.47% voted against it, according to the Secretary of State’s website. Statewide, 52.99% of voters approved the initiative, while 47.01% rejected it.

This report contains information from previous Sound Publishing reports.

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