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Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office: Board can’t raise tolls, ferry fares without Legislature

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Dec. 20, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
December 20, 2010 6:35 pm

The board that sets the price of road and bridge tolls and ferry fares no longer has the authority to set them, Attorney General Rob McKenna‘s office said today, siding with Tim Eyman.

But the decision is only a partial victory for Eyman, because it keeps the door open for the Legislature to restore that authority.

Eyman-backed Initiative 1053, the tax-limiting measure voters approved last month, tried to require a vote of the Legislature every time a fee goes up. That includes fares, tolls and every other fee that lawmakers have delegated to boards like the Transportation Commission.

In an informal opinion requested by Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, Deputy Solicitor General Jeff Even wrote that no law can prevent the Legislature from delegating its authority.

But I-1053 does cancel the fee-setting authority awarded by lawmakers in the past. The Legislature would have to take a vote to restore it for each fee.

“In a manner of speaking, I-1053 hit the ‘reset’ button on legislative approval of the imposition or increase of fees,” Even wrote, “limiting such actions to those approved anew by the legislature after the effective date of the measure.”

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