Owners of electric vehicles would pay an annual $100 fee to make up for lost gas tax revenues under legislation passed today by the Senate on a 31-16 vote.
“We think the purchase of electric vehicles is great for the environment but we also need to maintain our roads, which is why we have the gas tax,” said Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, the bill’s sponsor. “Electric vehicles put just as much wear and tear on our roads as gas vehicles. This simply ensures that they contribute their fair share to the upkeep of our roads.”
Haugen said Senate Bill 5251 is needed because people are driving less and driving more efficient vehicles in response to the rising cost of gas, causing a decline in the gas tax revenues that fund the state’s transportation projects. All revenue generated by the fee would go into the state Motor Vehicle Fund and be used for highway purposes.
The bill assesses the fee on vehicles that are power solely by electricity and are capable of traveling faster than 35 mph. The $100 fee will be automatically repealed if the state replaces the gas tax with a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) system that would charge vehicles based on distance traveled instead of the gallons of gas purchased.
“When we heard the bill in committee last year, the electric car folks said they wanted to pay their fair share but felt VMT was fairer,” Haugen said. “We listened and we respect that. The state isn’t ready yet for something like VMT, but if and when that day comes we have no problem shifting to that instead of the fee.”
The fee would take effect on vehicle registrations due on or after Feb. 1, 2013.