Fortunato to introduce ‘clean’ $30-car tab bill

Calls for special session to uphold will of the voters

Groundhog’s Day is still a little more than two months away, yet Sen. Phil Fortunato sees events unfolding eerily similar to the first time Washington voters approved $30 car tabs in 1999. Following that vote the state’s high court struck down the initiative granting tax relief, but legislators soon restored the $30 limit themselves, with former Gov. Gary Locke declaring that “$30 car tabs are here to stay.’ In hopes of keeping the issue from going all the way back up to the state Supreme Court this time around, the Auburn Republican has introduced straightforward legislation to protect drivers’ wallets.

“My bill gives the Legislature an opportunity to make things right with voters,” said Fortunato. “The court has once again caved to special interests and ignored the will of the voters, so I’m introducing a bill that will give taxpayers what they want – affordable car tabs – in a ‘clean’ way, aligning as close as possible to Initiative 976 to address the court’s issues. I call on the governor to convene a special session just like Gary Locke did so it can be approved without further delay.”

Legal challenges to the recently voter-approved car tab initiative argue that it violates the single-subject requirements in the state constitution. Similar arguments were made against Initiative 695, the original $30-car-tab measure. Simply put, voters may not have wanted all the additional items that the initiative included but had to vote for it to get the one item they wanted – the $30 car tabs.

“We are repeating history,” Fortunato said. “And I am going to do what I did then and ensure the will of the voters is protected. The Democrat-controlled legislature knew for several years that taxpayers did not want these inflated car tabs and at the behest of Sound Transit the majority failed to act. I’m hopeful that they will follow the lead of previous legislatures and do the right thing.

“Government has only its own greed to blame for the voters’ outrage.”

Fortunato’s letter to the Governor can be found here.