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Last year, the Voters of Washington State approved an Initiative that reduced car-tab taxes to $30. This same initiative has been voted on at least three times and the state managed to get it overturned twice. The third time, a coalition of cities, counties, and transit agencies has sued in an effort to keep it from taking effect, claiming the initiative is unconstitutional and would have a devastating impact on transit projects statewide. The units of government immediately sued, stating that because the initiative would reduce funds to themselves, it was unconstitutional. They are basically saying that because they are entitled to those funds for transit projects, the People’s approved initiative could not stand.
The state agencies have claimed that the ballot title was misleading, and the Voters didn’t understand what they were voting for. If the ballot title had NOT been “misleading” then the people would have understood the effects on all those transit projects, and would never have approved that initiative. Assumption: The voters of the State of Washington are too stupid to read the detailed initiative that was pretty clear what funds might be reduced, and whose ox would be gored. Actually, most Washington voters understand very well that a goodly portion of their auto registration fees goes not for maintaining highways in the state, but for transit projects that few of them actually use. The voters are pretty smart about this, and are continually beating down the doors of the Department of Transportation, and insisting that their car-tab fees should go primarily for road maintenance and not for public transit.
Every time the people approve a similar initiative, the affected agencies sue to overturn the will of the People. Once again, the Seattle Supreme Court is considering the question of who should win when the People approve an initiative affecting state agencies, the People or the State. We can, once again, guess where this will be heading.Published in