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Senate Law and Justice session on Sound Transit

Did Sound Transit mislead the Washington state Legislature and the public about the scope and financial impact of the Sound Transit 3 tax package?

That was the focus of a Senate Law and Justice Committee work session in Kent on Tuesday. The committee posed questions to Sound Transit officials, such as its legal counsel Desmond Brown and the agency’s communications officials. The committee also heard from Gonzaga law professor David DeWolf about the constitutionality of how ST3 was presented.

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The committee members stressed that the event was a work session and not a hearing. The session comes after Senator Steve O’Ban and Dino Rossi called for the investigation in May, after getting an earful from angry voters when the new tax for the $54 billion light rail expansion kicked in this this year. The tax doubled and even tripled car tab fees for some vehicle owners.

Sound Transit has maintained that claims of deception have no validity.

Sound Transit staff and legal experts will testify at Tuesday’s session. One of the big questions will be whether the legislation was even constitutional.

The Sound Transit 3 measure will add 62 miles of light rail throughout the region. It will, according to the agency, complete the 116-mile system that will reach from Tacoma to Everett, over Lake Washington to Eastside cities, and farther into Seattle’s neighborhoods. The $54 billion measure will cost the “typical adult” an additional $169 per year — or roughly $14 per month.

The measure was approved by Snohomish and King county voters living within Sound Transit’s taxing district. It was rejected in Pierce County.

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this article.

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