Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever…

The Terminator, 1984

The State of Washington, reprising the role of the Terminator, is coming after your wallet again. Despite every indication to the contrary, the Legislature appears to be under the impression that Washington State voters will warmly embrace a hike in their vehicle license tab fees. This time the proposed fee hike is graduated depending upon engine displacement.

Engine Size (in liters)
Fee Schedule

Up to 1.9

2.0 to 2.0

3.0 to 3.9

4.0 to 4.9

5.0 to 5.9

6.0 to 7.9

8.0 or over

This schedule is obviously designed to discourage ownership of large vehicle by imposing crushing fees based on engine displacement. As the owner of a large vehicle, I’m more than a little annoyed. Yes, we do own the vehicle, but it’s driven less than 5,000 miles per year. Do you really think that it’s somehow harming the environment more than a car with a 2.0 liter engine that’s driven 20,000 miles a year?

But to get back to the Terminator, in 1999, Washington voters approved Initiative 695, which eliminated the excise tax on vehicle licenses and reduced the State’s portion of the fee to $30 (local agencies could still assess fees). Opponents of the measure sued and the Initiative was declared unconstitutional. Fearing a real taxpayer revolt, Governor Gary Locke and the Legislature quickly passed a law reducing the fee to $30. (Note: I’ve never actually paid $30 for my car tabs as there are various fees tacked on; however current license fees are generally well under $100.)

Then, in November, 2003, voters passed Initiative 776, which removed local fees from car licenses. Like I-695, I-776 was overturned by the State Supreme Court.

Despite the dismal record of these initiatives passing Constitutional muster, it should be quite apparent to the Legislature that Washington State residents really, truly don’t want to pay exorbitant fees to license their vehicles. Washington voters, I urge you to read the text of the bill and contact your representatives to voice your objections.

Text of SB6900

Contact Information for State Legislators

Cross posted at It’s Only Words