Pierce County executive wants to join $30 car tab legal battle; other lawmakers ready for own fight

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. - The Pierce County Council is set to vote on the County Executive's proposal to join in on the legal fight opposing King County and Seattle.

Executive Bruce Dammeimer says the statewide vote of the people that passed $30 car tabs should stand and if a judge disagrees, some state lawmakers say they are ready to launch their own fight.

Sheena Caughie is in the minority when it comes to Pierce County voters because she says she voted against the $30 car tab initiative.

“Thirty dollars doesn’t seem like a reasonable charge for the current tab pricing, I feel like we still need to help our city and our streets,” Caughie said.

Although she wasn’t in favor of I-976, she disagrees with the messy legal fight underway to overturn the statewide vote that approved the measure. She says city and state leaders should respect the vote of the people.

County Executive Bruce Dammeier says he’s hearing those sentiments a lot.

“As a Pierce County executive, I have a responsibility to the voters of Pierce County. I am acting in that capacity in their defense,” Dammeier said.

With nearly 66% of Pierce County voters saying 'Yes' to I-976, Dammeier is proposing Pierce County fight along with the Attorney General’s Office.

The Pierce County Council is set to vote on Dammeier's proposal on December 10th.

“If the Attorney General needs our prosecutor’s office we would be there to provide additional staffing to make arguments whatever is necessary,” Dammeier said.

Dammeier says the courts would have to allow Pierce County jumping into the legal arena.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he does not have a comment for Q13 News on Dammeier's proposal.

As the legal fight continues, one state lawmaker representing Pierce County is convinced it will have to come down to state legislators to find a compromise.

“I’ve seen courts invalidate voter-approved initiatives in the past I’ve seen this movie and how it ends,” Senator Steve O’Ban said.

O’Ban says when the legislative session starts in January he will work to carve out Pierce County from footing the bill for ST3.

ST3, the voter-approved measure, allowed for major light rail expansion but it also caused car tabs to skyrocket for many in Pierce, Snohomish and King Counties to pay for the $54 billion expansion.

O’Ban is against ST3 and says Pierce County should not pay for something that will mostly benefit King County.

He says if Snohomish County lawmakers want to join forces they are welcome since a majority of Snohomish County voters also approved $30 car tabs in November.

But car tabs are also going to pay for local and state roads. So O’Ban says to make up for the gap he wants to redirect taxes from car sales to transportation projects. He says right now they are going into the general fund.

“That would actually create $30 billion over the next 10 years for our transportation needs,” O’Ban said.

O’Ban’s idea will certainly face opposition especially from lawmakers from King County considering 59% of voters rejected $30 car tabs.