The much-anticipated initial ruling on the Initiative 976 lawsuit is in – and King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson has rejected most of the arguments against the measure. But it’s not a full ruling, so the preliminary injunction keeping 976 on hold remains in effect. Here’s the ruling document (uploaded by independent city-focused news site SCC Insight), n which Ferguson writes, “To summarize, this order dismisses all but two of plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges to I-976.” The judge said, among other things, the plaintiffs didn’t meet the requirement of showing “beyond a reasonable doubt” that 976 violates the state constitution’s “single-subject rule” for initiatives. The plaintiffs include the city of Seattle. Here’s reaction from the mayor:
We respectfully disagree with the ruling today from Judge Ferguson and will continue to make our case about the unconstitutionality of I-976. Our residents have made it clear they support increasing transit, and voted overwhelmingly against this initiative.
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) February 12, 2020
She is also on the Sound Transit Board, which was briefed after the November election about potential effects of 976 if it were upheld and implemented. Here’s our coverage of that meeting. The board was told that projects through 2024 were likely safe; the West Seattle-Ballard Link Extension, however, is scheduled for 2030 completion, and under a worst-case scenario, ST might have to consider canceling or delaying some projects. ST itself is not a party to the lawsuit and has kept WS light-rail planning on track despite the legislation.
ADDED 4:26 PM: And that will continue, ST spokesperson David Jackson told WSB when we asked if the agency had a comment on today’s ruling: “Sound Transit will continue to monitor the ongoing litigation while we advance our work on the projects and services voters have asked us to deliver.”