Will car tabs go down? Where Olympia stands right now

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OLYMPIA — Still reeling over the cost of your car tabs?

Well in Olympia, Washington state lawmakers are reeling over how to fix high car tab costs. And with at least a dozen amendments proposed on both sides of the aisle in the state House and Senate, the situation remained quite muddy late Thursday morning.

“Something must be done to address the outrageous car tab increases we’re seeing,” Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek and ranking minority member of the House Transportation Committee, said earlier this week.

Q13 News Reporter Hana Kim is in Olympia following this rapidly changing story. It will be updated throughout the day. 

On Monday, House Republicans introduced six Sound Transit related amendments to the proposed transportation budget, HB 1147, that would:

  • Exempt Pierce County from Sound Transit 3 taxes.
  • Allow cities and counties to opt out of all Sound Transit 3 taxes.
  • Prohibit Department of Licensing (DOL) from collecting a motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) from residents of cities or counties that choose to opt out of the MVET.
  • Require Sound Transit to assess vehicles using their Kelley Blue Book value if they want to use DOL to collect the MVET.
  • Require Sound Transit to assess vehicles using their Kelley Blue Book value when assessing the MVET.
  • Prohibit Sound Transit from issuing any new bonds without receiving legislative approval.

Republican leadership remains steadfast in their assertion Sound Transit needs to use the Kelley Blue Book value when calculating car tab fees, not the MSRP. The MSRP is the sticker price of a car when it is new.

Democratic leadership has said if these amendments pass, light rail expansion could be delayed because it would be billions of dollars short.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats offered an alternative Wednesday to Republicans' amendments to the transportation budget.

State Senator Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, proposed an amendment that would offer refunds to drivers who have already paid and move to lower car tab prices for drivers going forward.

But on Thursday, Liias seemed to back away from that proposal, further throwing the situation into flux.

The 2017 legislative session is scheduled to end April 23.

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