Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, is calling for a special legislative session after a King County judge’s decision to block the $30 car tab measure from taking effect as scheduled Dec. 5. Voters approved Initiative 976 earlier this month.
“This decision from a King County judge is a failure of the state’s judicial branch. As a result, it is urgent that the Legislature call a special session to rectify this failure and mistake,” said Walsh. “We must restore the proper balance of power among the branches of state government. One judge in King County cannot overturn the will of the people of Washington. The Legislature must step up and do its job to express the will of the people.”
King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson said he was concerned that the language of the initiative was misleading during a hearing Tuesday and issued an order to the state Wednesday to stop plans to implement the initiative.
Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement Wednesday, saying, “We are taking action today in response to the court order and in consideration of the vote on the initiative. The state will take a fiscally prudent approach by effectively continuing to act as if the initiative is still in place from a state spending perspective.
“Accordingly, state funds from car tabs will be held separately and set aside to function as an escrow account. We will effectively go forward as if the initiative is still in place and these funds will be available for refunds as determined by any further court order. The Department of Licensing will continue to collect car tab fees unless further instructed by the court.
“I will work collaboratively with the Legislature on a plan to move forward during this period of uncertainty.”
Attorney General Bob Ferguson released his own statement Wednesday: “This is not a final judgment, and this case is far from over. We will continue working to defend the will of the voters. This case will ultimately wind up before the State Supreme Court. We are working now to determine our immediate next steps.”
Walsh said, “If the Legislature does not convene this special session immediately and reflect the voters’ decision on car tabs, we risk all branches of state government losing legitimacy in the eyes of the people. Already we are hearing Washingtonians despair saying ‘What’s the use of voting?’ This cannot stand. This is a constitutional crisis. The Legislature must convene a special session to fix this problem now.”