McMahan heads local gas tax repeal effort

A 9.5-cent-a-gallon gas tax passed the Washington State Legislature in the nick of time last April, but local political leaders are saying “not so fast.”

Lois McMahan, former state representative in the 26th District, has been tapped as the local leader for the statewide signature drive to place Initiative 912, which would revoke the gas tax increases passed this year by the Legislature, on the November ballot.

“We’re gathering signatures in public places,” McMahan said.

According to McMahan, volunteers will be on hand to gather signatures at the ferry docks, the post office, Wal-mart and several other heavily-trafficked areas of Port Orchard.

“We already have one of the highest gas taxes in the nation,” McMahan said. “This increase of nine and a half cents will give us the highest in the nation.

“What the Legislature did this year denied the people their constitutional right to challenge legislative action by referendum,” McMahan said. “They did this by including an emergency clause in the legislation that passed, even though this was the largest tax increase ever and a tax passed at the last minute.”

An emergency clause prevents the people from creating a referendum to overturn legislation. McMahan said they are aiming to collect 300,000 signatures to present to the Legislature. She said she believes collecting the signatures will be no problem.

“What I’m hearing from the voters was that people want accountability for the transportation dollars already collected,” McMahan said. “They want the Department of Transportation to streamline processes and to insist that the Legislature do something about the whole permitting process that costs 40 cents out of every dollar for a project.

“The gas tax increases penalize the people of the 26th District because we all pay a disproportionate share of gas tax anyway, living in a rural area and traveling more miles than Seattle residents,” McMahan said.

“Then to force us to help pay for Seattle’s projects when we’re going to be paying already with tolls for the second Narrows Bridge is inherently unjust,” she said. “The Attorney General’s office has said that not one dime of the gas tax hike is absolutely committed to any project.

“The fact is,” she said, “there are no plans for what might be built, no cost limits and no timeline for when anything might get done. People in King County would have to vote themselves huge tax increases if they even want to see their projects built.

“We have a short time to collect the signatures and need volunteers to help collect them,” McMahan said. “I’m hoping it will send a very strong message to the Legislature.”

For more information, or to volunteer, call (253) 857-6590 , (360) 871-7383 or (253) 857-7408.

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