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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2003
Constitutionality of I-776 Could Be Decided Friday


SEATTLE -- On Friday, January 31, a King County Superior Court judge will consider summary judgment motions in a case challenging the constitutionality of Initiative 776.

Arguments on motions filed by both sides in the case will be heard by Superior Court Judge Mary Yu. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. in Room W-928 of the King County Courthouse.

After the hearing, the judge could ask for additional information, take the case under advisement, or rule on the constitutional issues. I-776, which was approved by voters last November, limits the cost of motor-vehicle license tabs to $30 per year.

The Attorney General's Office, whose duties include defending laws passed by the Legislature or by voters through the initiative process, is defending the initiative.

Late last year, Pierce and King counties, the City of Tacoma and three citizens filed suit seeking to have I-776 declared unconstitutional. Sound Transit and several other entities later intervened in the case on the side of the original plaintiffs. In December, Yu ordered the state to continue collecting a $15 vehicle license fee in King and Pierce counties while the constitutional issues are resolved. The money will be returned to vehicle owners if the initiative is upheld.

The state also is continuing to collect a local motor vehicle excise tax in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to prevent taxpayers from being held liable for monetary damages if I-776 is declared unconstitutional. Sound Transit has pledged the tax money to pay off previously issued bonds.

A copy of the state's memorandum on the summary judgment motions can be obtained here

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