O’Ban, Padden submit amicus brief in taxpayer lawsuit against Sound Transit

OLYMPIA…Leaders of last year’s state Senate investigation into Sound Transit Wednesday submitted an amicus (or “friend of the court”) brief in a class-action lawsuit filed against the regional transit authority in June.

The brief was filed in Pierce County Superior Court by Sen. Steve O’Ban, who called for the 2017 Senate investigation, and Sen. Mike Padden, who chaired the Senate Law and Justice Committee that conducted the probe. The brief adds to the information that will be considered by the Pierce County court in Black v. Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority. That suit contends Sound Transit has been unconstitutionally overcharging taxpayers in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties since the passage of Sound Transit 3 in 2016.

O’Ban and Padden have advocated in the state Senate that Sound Transit be held accountable for the inflated car-tab fees imposed by the ST3 measure, arguing that the statute authorizing Sound Transit to seek additional motor-vehicle excise taxes violated Article II, section 37 of the state Constitution. The brief they submitted in Pierce County notes that Sound Transit could come back to the Legislature with a lawful and fairer approach to determining vehicle values, and tab fees, if a settlement or court order requires it.

“Sound Transit needs to be held accountable for unconstitutionally overcharging taxpayers,” said O’Ban, R-University Place, a constitutional law attorney whose 28th Legislative District constituents are being hit hard by high ST3 costs. “Legislators and voters across Puget Sound are angered by the misleading way in which Sound Transit jacked up their car-tab fees. I am hopeful that taxpayers will soon receive the overdue car-tab relief they deserve.”

“Sound Transit played fast and loose with the truth,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley, and a former district court judge in Spokane County. “It kept key facts from the Legislature and the voters. We need to bring Sound Transit back in line, restore accountability and rebuild public trust.”