Our legislators continue to labor over a proposal to get some road tax money from the owners of vehicles that use little or no fuel. We're talking here about House Bill 2453, the result of more than a decade of work by the Road User Fee Task Force in the Department of Transportation.
The bill calls for a road usage fee to be paid on vehicles that get more than 55 miles to the gallon, which essentially means electric cars. The bill cleared the House Transportation Committee over Republican objections on April 3. Since then the House tax committee, headed by Phil Barnhart of Eugene, has held two public hearings and a work session and plans another work session, when action can be taken, on May 8. After that, the joint budget committee would take a look at the measure. (For an update, see the later entry on this bill.)
We all pay for roads through the state fuel tax of 30 cents a gallon. If you drive 15,000 miles in a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon, you now pay the state $225 in gas tax. A road user tax of 1.5 cents a mile would yield the same amount.
The bill would have ODOT come up with various ways that electric car owners could report their mileage and pay the fee. Since all cars have odometers, you'd think this would not be hard. (hh)