2020 Washington Legislature, Day 11 of 60
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OLYMPIA, Jan. 23, 2020 — An effort is taking shape to reduce the motor vehicle excise tax that helps fund Sound Transit.
A bill dropped late Wednesday by Sen. Marko Liias requires the regional transit authority to stop using a 1996 depreciation schedule in calculating the tax and switch to a schedule adopted by lawmakers in 2006.
The newer grid better reflects a car’s actual value and will result in a little savings for vehicle owners when they renew their car tabs. A couple of tweaks will be needed, Liias said, to ensure no car owner winds up with a higher bill.
Sound Transit planned to make the switch later this decade. This bill would make it happen this year.
“We’re addressing the unfairness in the valuation schedule and keeping faith with the voters who want light rail,” he said.
Liias said he isn’t getting pushback because passage of Initiative 976 spurred Sound Transit directors to press lawmakers to accelerate the change.
It will reduce cash flow for Sound Transit between now and 2028, he said. The transit agency will borrow money to cover the gap and, over time, this will drive up the price tag of the Sound Transit 3 expansion, he said.
• In related news, electric and hybrid vehicle owners could soon be a little lighter in the wallet every time they take a drive. Legislation introduced Wednesday seeks to impose a fee of 3.5 cents per mile on electric vehicles and 2 cents per mile on hybrids, starting in 2024. The authors are Liias and fellow Democratic Sens. Rebecca Saldana and Steve Hobbs.
What we’re writing and reading
• Homelessness and what to do about it is suddenly, bewilderingly the talk of the state Capitol in Olympia, writes Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat — more than four years after Seattle and King County officials pleaded for state leaders to do something about the emerging crisis.
• James Drew of the News Tribune was on hand when Republican senators unveiled their myriad of proposals to reduce homelessness earlier this week.
• And check this out. The Herald’s Evan Thompson tells the story of how rockhounds discovered a 16,000-pound jade boulder near Darrington.
• It’s Purple Presence Day, which means SEIU 775 union members will be here in force, clad in purple shirts.
• It’s also Dental Action Day. Play your cards right and maybe you can get advice about that achy tooth.
• Data privacy and facial recognition bills are on the move today in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.
• And limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines are scheduled to be voted out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
Non-profit TVW covers state government in Olympia and selected events statewide. Programs are available for replay on the internet, and the channel is widely available on Washington cable systems.
Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Herald) | Rachel La Corte (AP) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Times) | Jim Brunner (Times) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | James Drew (News Tribune)