Washington Supreme Court Upholds Tribal Fuel Tax Compacts

On  August 27, 2015, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Washington affirmed the validity of the motor vehicle fuel tax compacts entered into between the State and numerous Tribes.  Under the fuel tax compacts, the State refunds to the Tribes 75% of the tax collected from tribal and tribal member owned stations, which the Tribes use to support road construction, law enforcement, and other essential government services on their reservations.  These compacts have successfully ended decades of litigation and provide both state and tribal governments substantial revenues to support the important services they provide.  The Court rejected the constitutional challenges urged by Automotive United Trades Organization (AUTO), upholding the authority of the Legislature and the Governor to work constructively with Tribes to meet their respective needs.  Cory Albright and John Sledd of Kanji & Katzen PLLC played a leading role in drafting the brief amicus curiae submitted on behalf of fifteen Tribes, which the Court cited throughout its opinion.