Seattle, King County ask for pause on $30 car tabs as lawsuit plays out

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The saga for $30 car tabs in Washington continues. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The first court battle over I-976 will play out in King County Superior Court next Tuesday, as Seattle and the rest of the coalition challenging I-976 are asking a judge to temporarily block the $30 dollar car tabs measure while the lawsuit plays out.

Washington’s $30 car tab debacle could have been avoided

The Seattle Attorney’s Office announced Monday that the request for a preliminary injunction had been filed separate from the lawsuit the group filed last week.

“From initiative text that contradicts the ballot title, to issues involving local control, it took dozens of pages to outline the myriad of constitutional deficiencies with I-976. We’re asking the Court to press pause on implementation until we can present our full case that this misleading initiative doesn’t pass constitutional muster,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said in an accompanying statement.

“We are committed to fighting this unwise and unconstitutional initiative with our partners. The harm created by this initiative will be long lasting and irreparable. We ask the Court to protect our most vulnerable residents who rely on transit, safe roads and crosswalks, and our students who rely on their ORCA passes to get to and from school,” added Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

The lawsuit argues that the initiative violates the state’s constitution.

“As with prior initiatives by the same sponsor, I-976 is a poorly drafted hodge-podge that violates multiple provisions of the constitution,” the lawsuit states.

That sponsor is Tim Eyman.

Voters approved I-976 with 53 percent in favor across Washington state.

Plaintiffs argue that the initiative uses “seemingly popular provisions to gain passage of unpopular ones” and misleads voters on the true nature and impact. They also claim it violates the rule that local matters should be decided locally, rather than with a statewide vote.

You can read the many suggested violations here.

In addition to the city of Seattle and King County, plaintiffs include the Garfield County Transportation Authority, Washington State Transit Association, Association of Washington Cities, the Port of Seattle, Intercity Transit, Amalgamated Transit Union Legislative Council of Washington, and Michael Rogers, an individual with cerebral palsy in Lacey.

The real reason Washington voters approved $30 car tabs

The plaintiffs are asking that the initiative be ruled unconstitutional and be prevented from taking effect.

“The end result of this unconstitutional initiative, I-976, is to decimate revenue and funding for crucial local projects, particularly those related to transportation and transit,” the lawsuit states.

Eyman responded to the lawsuit.

“Rather than accept the voters clear decision, Seattle government is suing the voters because the voters disobeyed and voted for it anyway,” Eyman wrote. “It’s a slap in the face to the people who clearly oppose these dishonest vehicle taxes.”

The Washington State Office of Financial Management estimates that the adoption of I-976 would slash $1.9 billion in state revenue over the next six years, as well as $2.3 billion in funding for local governments.