Sen. Wayne Harper caught some heat last week from Utah Democrats for SB 139, which hikes registration fees on electric, natural gas and hybrid vehicles. At first blush the legislation seems a little tone deaf, especially given all the attention being paid to Utah’s air quality. Is that the case? “I’m not trying to disincentivize the purchase of those vehicles,” says Harper.
He says those added fees will simply make users of those vehicles pay their fair share in maintaining Utah’s roads. Right now, the gasoline tax pays for road maintenance, and alternative fuel cars pay little to no gas taxes.
“What it does is takes into account that everyone who drives on the road has an impact. A gasoline vehicle drives, on average, more than 12,000 miles a year and pays about $120 in motor fuel taxes. Propane and electric vehicles pay zero while a hybrid pays about $35. This is a fee for using the roads.”
But, will his bill keep people from buying those kinds of cars?
“I totally support electric and alternative fuel vehicles. This bill is being run in tandem with HB 74, which creates a $2500 tax credit for the purchase or lease of an electric vehicle, something that does not exist today. If you take that to it’s logical conclusion, it would take 20 years of driving these vehicles to equalize the upfront tax credit you get.”