Who deserves blame for the death of car tab relief efforts?
Legislators are pointing fingers after another session with no relief from expensive car tab fees.
Democrats say they had legislation ready to go, but Republicans threatened a filibuster, which is why they weren’t able to send anything to the governor.
Republican state Rep. Mark Harmsworth disagrees with that narrative.
“It’s ridiculous for them to claim that because it’s not even possible,” Harmsworth told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “We have a three-minute rule on the speeches on the floor.”
It’s true. Chamber rules prevent a filibuster in the traditional sense. But with a looming deadline, it’s still possible to accomplish the same goal if multiple members maximize their three-minute limit while speaking on several amendments.
Harmsworth said Democrats were scared of the debate.
“It wasn’t until the very last minute they brought it back to us and said OK, so rip everything off,” Harmsworth said, “we don’t want a debate, we just want to run this bill out. We said no, let’s have the debate, there’s plenty of time left. They obviously didn’t want to do that.”
Voters approved the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure in 2016. The 25-year program increased car-tab fees in the process. After passage, many drivers realized the fees increased even more than they expected. Legislators have been promising a fix ever since.
Democrats and Republicans in Olympia couldn’t come to an agreement before the end of the session on March 8.
Harmsworth said it was actually disagreements among Democrats that really slowed down the bill.
“We were just trying to add some real relief,” Harmsworth said. “Actually get some real reductions instead of some very small amount. This, I think, was just political wrangling at the end of the day.”
Now that the session is over, there’s no chance at a fee reduction this year. Harmsworth said they’ll be re-submitting legislation at the beginning of the next legislative session in January.