King County judge blocks Washington’s $30 car tab measure

A Washington judge has blocked the recently approved $30 car tab measure from taking effect, citing “substantial concerns” that the initiative’s description on the ballot was misleading.

Voters approved Initiative 976 earlier this month, capping most taxes paid through annual vehicle registration at $30, and also largely revoking the authority of state and local governments to add new taxes and fees. The city of Seattle, King County, and other groups sued to stop the measure, saying that it was misleading, violates the state Constitution in several ways and would decimate revenues they need to pay for roads, bridges and transit.

It’s estimated I-976 would cost the state and local governments more than $4 billion in revenue over the next six years.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs on Tuesday told King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson the initiative contained multiple subjects, contrary to the Constitution, and that its ballot title deceptively suggested it would not restrict the ability of local voters to approve taxes to fund local transportation or transit needs, when it does.

During arguments on Tuesday, Ferguson voiced concerns that the ballot language was misleading. The judge effectively blocked the measure Wednesday.

The initiative’s sponsor, Tim Eyman, is a longtime antitax initiative promoter who recently announced a run for governor. His $30 car tab initiative first passed 20 years ago, but was struck down in court before being enacted by lawmakers. The fees have crept up as lawmakers allowed them and voters in some places approved them.  (AP)

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