Rep. Harmsworth on Sound Transit reform

This week, Representative Mark Harmsworth’s office released two press releases on the Sound Transit tax and Republican efforts for reform.

April 4, 2017
CONTACT: Kelley Hays, Public Information Officer

Republicans to bring Sound Transit reforms to House floor tomorrow
House of Representatives to vote on transportation budget

In response to constituent outrage and car-tab sticker shock, House Republicans will introduce six amendments to the transportation budget tomorrow aimed at lowering car tabs and allowing cities and counties to opt-out of Sound Transit 3. If those amendments are scoped, meaning House Democrats refuse to allow a vote on them, House Republicans will consider other options to move their solutions forward in the legislative process.

“It’s apparent that the majority party simply doesn’t plan on fixing the problem. I think this is unacceptable. Something must be done to address the outrageous cab-tab increases we’re seeing,” said Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek and assistant ranking minority member of the House Transportation Committee. “We have tried to move solutions forward through the normal legislative channels, but they’ve been ignored. I see no other option but to bring this legislation directly to the House floor for a vote. Several lawmakers have expressed interest in fixing Sound Transit 3. I hope they follow through and support these solutions.”

The six Sound Transit-related amendments to the transportation budget, House Bill 1147, would do the following:

Amendment 410 | Rep. Michelle Caldier
Exempt Pierce County from Sound Transit 3 taxes.

Amendment 416 | Rep. Morgan Irwin
Allow cities and counties to opt out of all Sound Transit 3 taxes.

Amendment 423 | Rep. Dick Muri
Prohibit Department of Licensing (DOL) from collecting a motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) from residents of cities or counties that choose to opt out of the MVET.

Amendment 422 | Rep. Paul Graves
Require Sound Transit to assess vehicles using their Kelley Blue Book value if they want to use DOL to collect the MVET.

Amendment 420 | Rep. Drew Stokesbary
Require Sound Transit to assess vehicles using their Kelley Blue Book value when assessing the MVET.

Amendment 421 | Rep. Ed Orcutt
Prohibit Sound Transit from issuing any new bonds without receiving legislative approval.

Rep. Morgan Irwin, who is sponsoring an amendment that would allow cities and counties to opt out of Sound Transit 3, says his constituents are outraged and demanding that something be done.

“People are mad and rightfully so. While the car-tab increases are eye opening, this revenue only represents 14 percent of Sound Transit 3 funding. That means everyone is paying the additional 86 percent somewhere else and property tax bills are on the way,” said Irwin, R-Enumclaw. “This measure was very unpopular in the communities I represent. I believe counties and cities should be allowed to opt-out of Sound Transit 3 if they choose. It’s just not a good deal for many communities and taxpayers.”

Republicans have made this issue a priority since the beginning of the legislative session. They have introduced bills that would:

  • change the board of a Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) from appointed to elected;
  • prohibit Regional Transit Authority property taxes on less than a whole parcel;
  • tie the car-tab formula to the Kelley Blue Book value; and
  • allow cities and counties to opt out of the Sound Transit 3 taxes.

A group of House Republicans sent a letter to the Speaker of the House urging him to pass three of these bills related to Sound Transit 3 on March 8. These measures have not moved forward.

Sens. Steve O’Ban and Dino Rossi have also questioned the constitutionality of Sound Transit’s car-tab fees. The senators sent a letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson asking him to weigh in over a month ago.

House Republicans will introduce 29 amendments to the transportation budget tomorrow. You can learn more about these amendments and what they would do here.

The 2017 legislative session is scheduled to end April 23.


April 5, 2017
CONTACT: Kelley Hays, Public Information Officer

Harmsworth’s Sound Transit 3 property tax relief bill moving forward

Proposed legislation that would help property owners who were not allowed to vote on Sound Transit 3, but are now being forced to pay increased property taxes for the massive $54 billion project, was placed on third reading in the House Rules Committee today by Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle.

House Bill 1958, sponsored by Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek, was approved by the House Transportation Committee in February. By being placed on third reading, the bill could be voted on by the full chamber as soon as tomorrow.

“This is an issue that absolutely has to be fixed,” said Harmsworth. “It’s about tax fairness for those that did not get to vote on Sound Transit 3. Why should they have to pay for something they didn’t even get to vote on? I’m pleased to see Speaker Chopp pull this bill from Rules, as he promised. Now, we can move forward and fix this for those people who did not get to vote on the project and are being told they have to pay the taxes.”

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