Per-mile tax targeting efficient cars back on the table for Oregon Legislature
By Lee van der Voo
Sustainable Business Oregon contributing writer
The idea of a pay-per-mile fee for efficient cars instead of a gas tax will be raised in Salem again this year.
A law aimed at capturing money for road upkeep from EV and fuel-efficient drivers appears headed for revival at the Oregon Legislature in 2013.
State lawmakers introduced a bill last year proposing to tax EV drivers for each mile driven on Oregon roads, a proposal developed by a state task force grappling with the modern shortcomings of a 30-cent-per-gallon gas tax. The idea spurred debate, but ultimately failed to come to a vote before lawmakers adjourned.
The Associated Press reports that the per-mile tax is back on the table in the upcoming legislative session, this time targeting vehicles that get at least 55 miles per gallon of gasoline or its equivalent.
Drive Oregon's Executive Director Jeff Allen said that's a welcome shift from last year's legislation.
"It recognizes that the problem is highly efficient vehicles. The problem isn't really electric vehicles, per se. At this point there's not enough of them to make a dent in revenue," said Allen who leads the state-funded electric vehicle industry group.
No word yet on what the new fee will be, or how it will be administered, but Allen said EV drivers are hoping for a lower rate than last year's proposed 1.43 cents per mile, one closer in line with the miles-per-gallon equivalent of the gas tax.
As for the change itself, he said the industry is on board with a shift to a use-based approach.
"Folks in the EV industry totally understand that as cars become more efficient the gas tax doesn't work very well to pay for roads and infrastructure," Allen said.
The Associated Press reports the legislation would need approval by three-fifths vote in both the House and Senate, because it raises taxes.
Washington's transportation commission is asking lawmakers there to raise the gas tax in order to help fix that state's transportation infrastructure.
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