WA voter anger: State Supremes again strike $30 license tabs


The Washington state Supreme Court struck down an initiative limiting car license tab fees to $30. People are angry. (Dave Workman)

Washington state voters who supported an initiative limiting the price of annual car license tabs are furious that the state Supreme Court has once again ruled their measure unconstitutional, and there is a special fury among state gun owners who believe the court used a double standard when it ruled a 2018 gun control initiative was okay.

According to KCPQ News—the local Fox News affiliate in Seattle—the “justices wrote that the measure covered too many subjects, which is against state law, and also had an inaccurate ballot title.”

But the high court allowed Initiative 1639, a sweeping gun control scheme passed in November 2018, was okay. That initiative covered several different subjects, including a ban on sales of so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles” to anyone under age 21, even though young adults ages 18-20 can legally purchase other types of rifles. It also created a training requirement to purchase any semi-auto rifle, and created a definition for “semiautomatic assault rifle” that applies to every self-loading rifle ever manufactured, including .22-caliber rimfires.

It also included a safe storage requirement, and an “enhanced background check 10-day waiting period” on the purchase of a semi-auto rifle.” That, say gun rights activists, made I-1639 a multi-subject initiative.

This makes the Thursday state Supreme Court ruling even more bitter. Initiative 976 would have limited the cost of license tabs to $30. It’s not the first time voters approved such a measure, and not the first time the court struck it down.

State court justices said I-976 also had an inaccurate ballot title.

Had the court upheld the initiative, passed by 53 percent of voters statewide, it could have cut more than $4 billion in state tax revenue by 2025, according to KING5 News, the Seattle NBC affiliate.

Seattle’s KOMO News, which is the local ABC affiliate, reported the ruling was unanimous. There is not one conservative justice on the state high court, leading critics to call it the “Seattle Supreme Court.” Seattle is the nerve center of liberal politics in the Evergreen State, which largely votes conservative on many issues, but high voter turnout in liberal Seattle and King County tends to dominate any vote. King County encompasses liberal Seattle.

KIRO7 Eyewitness News, Seattle’s CBS affiliate, quoted liberal Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, calling the court ruling “justice for Seattle voters.”

But what about voters in the rest of the state?

Only six of the state’s 39 counties rejected the initiative in November 2019, including King. It passed in the other 33 counties.

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This is the third time voters had approved $30 car tabs.

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