OLYMPIA — Tim Eyman of Mukilteo has taken a big stride toward getting a measure on the 2019 ballot aimed at capping car tab fees at $30 and erasing the motor vehicle excise tax collected by Sound Transit.
On Wednesday, Eyman submitted 286,003 signatures for Initiative 976 and he intends to turn in several thousand more in the next few days. He was joined by Jack and Mike Fagan of Spokane. The three men are leaders of Voters Want More Choices, the political committee pushing this measure.
“We always wanted to be done early,” Eyman said. “This is a big relief to have this done.”
They need 259,622 valid signatures of registered voters to qualify. The Secretary of State recommends turning in at least 325,000 to account for duplicates and invalid ones which is why Eyman plans to drop off more petitions.
Initiative 976 is a proposed initiative to the Legislature. If it qualifies, state lawmakers will have the option to adopt it as written or not, in which case it would go on the ballot. Lawmakers also can put an alternative measure in front of voters as well.
This measure would lower car tab fees on passenger vehicles to $30 and eliminate the 1.1 percent in excise taxes approved by voters to fund Sound Transit light rail projects. This includes a portion of the money earmarked by voters in 2016 to expand service into Snohomish County.
The measure also calls for axing vehicle fees charged by cities through transportation benefit districts, a move that would affect Edmonds, Everett, Granite Falls and Lynnwood.
Eyman failed to qualify similar measures in 2016 and 2017.
Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, vowed vigorous opposition. Already, he’s set up a website, www.No976.org, listing potential impacts, especially to the cities with transportation benefit districts.
“We’re very determined to defeat the initiative if it goes on the ballot,” he said. “We intend to be working on it all year long.”
A spokesman for Sound Transit said agency officials could not comment on potential ballot measures.