Battle over $30 car tabs heads to Washington State Supreme Court

Apr 1, 2020, 6:20 AM | Updated: 10:44 am
eyman, $30 car tabs...
Gov. Inslee and Tim Eyman argue on Thursday, Jan. 9. (KIRO 7 screengrab)
(KIRO 7 screengrab)

Mix anti-tax activist Tim Eyman with a $30 dollar car tab initiative and a judge, and you’ve got all the makings of a months-long, drawn-out headline-grabbing legal battle on your hands. That’s pretty much where things stand roughly five months after Washington voters approved I-976 on the November 2019 ballot.

The latest chapter puts the future of $30 car tabs squarely in the hands of the Washington State Supreme Court.

I-976 was meant to attract drivers upset with the unexpectedly high increase in their car tab bills that came with the approval of ST3, the $54 billion dollar light rail expansion approved by voters in 2016.

But the car tabs measure went much further, also eliminating various state and local vehicle fees, transit benefit districts, decimating bus and transit service for various agencies, and gutting local road repair dollars, while leaving a nearly half-billion dollar hole in the state’s transportation budget.

In November, the City of Seattle, King County and various transit agencies sued, claiming I-976 was unconstitutional. Within weeks, a King County judge put a temporary injunction in place  to keep the $30 car tab measure from taking effect while the court case played out.

That meant drivers hoping for that elusive break from in their out-of-control car tab fees would have to wait for that relief.

Since then, a series of complicated rulings, stays, and injunctions have played out in King County court, including a judge earlier last month upholding the bulk of I-976 as constitutional.

Not long after that, more legal maneuvering led to some parts of I-976 being separated out of the larger legal challenge, with King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson indicating he was about the lift the injunction and let the $30 car tab measure take effect.

Language in the ruling was so tricky, Eyman actually thought he’d won. What it actually amounted to, though, was one last chance for Seattle and others to convince the judge to keep the temporary pause in place.

In the end, Judge Ferguson lifted the injunction, but then paused his own order at the request of Seattle and others, when they filed an emergency request with the state Supreme Court for a brand new injunction to keep I-976 from kicking in while the ongoing legal battle now plays out in the state’s high court.

Next, the Washington State Supreme Court will take up the issue of injunction at the end of April.

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email her

Local News

Kathryn Stone

Oregon kidnapping suspect taken into custody after standoff

Law enforcement officials were able to determine that Foster had been accessing dating applications on his phone.
1 day ago
Friends kitchen...
Micki Gamez

The Friends Experience pop-up opens in Seattle on Feb. 1

The FRIENDS Experience invites fans to step inside the world of the iconic series, relive their favorite moments, and celebrate the show.
1 day ago
dead road rage...
L.B. Gilbert

Greenwood road rage fight involved knife, baseball bat

Police are investigating a road rage incident involving a bat and a knife in a QFC parking lot in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood.
1 day ago
The logo for OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, appears on a mobile phone, in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31...
Associated Press

Cheaters beware: ChatGPT maker releases AI detection tool

ChatGPT is trying to curb its reputation as a freewheeling cheating machine with a new tool that can help detect if artificial intelligence wrote it
1 day ago
lake stevens...
L.B. Gilbert

Case dismissed against Lake Stevens HS employee accused of sexual misconduct

A Lake Stevens School District employee is under arrest after being suspected of improper sexual contact with at least one child.
1 day ago
bristol bay...
L.B. Gilbert

Bristol Bay salmon runs protected as EPA halts mine development

The EPA won a 12-year battle for a cleaner habitat by taking big steps to protect Bristol Bay salmon runs, the most productive in the world.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Battle over $30 car tabs heads to Washington State Supreme Court