Auto. United Trades Org. v. WashingtonAnnotate this Case
The Automotive United Trades Organization (AUTO) and Tower Energy Group (Tower) brought an as-applied state constitutional challenge to a tax based on the possession of petroleum as a hazardous substance. AUTO and Tower claimed that the hazardous substances tax (HST) violated article II, section 40 of the state constitution because the revenue from motor vehicle fuel was not being "placed in a special fund to be used exclusively for highway purposes." The trial court held on summary judgment that AUTO's claim was barred because it was not filed within a reasonable time under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act (UDJA) and that the HST does not violate article II, section 40. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part. The Court reversed the trial court in barring AUTO and Tower from bringing their constitutional challenge because to do so would deprive the Supreme Court of its vested power to determine the constitutionality of specific legislation. The Court affirmed the trial court, however, in granting summary judgment to the State because article II, section 40 provides that "this section shall not be construed to include revenue from general or special taxes or excises not levied primarily for highway purposes."