O’Ban: Voters’ wishes must be respected, I-976 implemented

Sponsors package of I-976, Sound Transit legislation in response to voter outcry


OLYMPIA…After Initiative-976, known as “$30 car-tabs” passed statewide, voters expected that their wishes would be respected, and the measure would be implemented by their state government. Unfortunately, that has not happened. But Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, has introduced a package of bills that would implement and fund I-976, as well as limit Sound Transit’s reach.

Since November, Seattle-King County and state officials have not only condemned the passage of I-976, they have repeatedly shown Washingtonians that their votes do not matter. Seattle and King County filed suit to stop 976 and a King County judge invalidated the initiative based on the premise that the title, written by the Washington State Attorney General’s office, was too confusing for people to know what they were actually voting on. Voters feel the lawsuit and the judge’s ruling as insulting as it is undemocratic.

“Between the governor halting transportation projects that are unrelated to 976 and  funded by the gas tax, and  the superintendent of public instruction calling for counties who passed I-976 to be punished by taking away funding, it appears many leaders  are siding with Seattle and are ignoring voters across most  of Washington,” said O’Ban. “The lawsuit in King County shows how little stock they put in the will of the people.”

In addition to these attacks, the majority party filed House Bill 2529, which limits the power of the people by preventing them from bringing forth an initiative in odd number years. These are the years in which the Legislature is most likely going to raise your taxes because that’s when it writes the budget, and they are also the years the people are more likely to repeal a tax – such as an income tax.

“If the King County lawsuit was a slap in the face of voters, a bill undermining their initiative power is a punch to the gut,” said O’Ban.

In addition to implementing $30 car tabs, O’Ban continues to try to rein in Sound Transit, the transit authority responsible for the $54 billion ST3 light rail project in King County. Sound Transit has been the subject of O’Ban legislation for three years – legislation the majority failed to pass.

With this package of bills, O’Ban continues to fight for the Sound Transit board to be directly elected by voters, to require voter approval for Sound Transit spending on ST3 above the $54 billion, and #SoundTrexit, which  would remove Pierce County from the project entirely.

“Over 66 percent of Pierce County voted for $30 car tabs in November. I believe my job is to see that the voter’s will is carried out. It’s also my job to protect my constituents from reckless taxation and spending on projects they have no interest in and will not benefit from,” said O’Ban. “My constituents didn’t want ST3 and they’re angry at how much their car tabs skyrocketed as a result. They need and want relief. Let’s give it to them.”

O’Ban’s package of bills aims to do such things as codifying I-976, redirecting motor vehicle sales tax to transportation funding to cover I-976 losses, exempting Pierce County from ST3 and requiring the state to use a more reasonable valuation schedule for determining car-tab fees.

  • SB 6108: Exempts Pierce County from ST3 (#SoundTrexit)
  • SB 6245: Codifies I-976 and replaces lost revenue by redirecting automobile sales tax
  • SB 5042: Uses Kelley Blue Book or National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) valuation schedule
  • SB 5037: Requires voter approval for Sound Transit spending on ST3 over $54 billion
  • SB 5220: Requires Sound Transit board members to be directly elected by the people

“Instead of government fighting WITH the people, it should be fighting FOR the people,” said O’Ban.