Oregon House Panel OK’s Road Usage Charge Bill

Tom Warne Report, 18 May 2013

Statesman Journal – May 14, 2013

State legislators have determined the rate for a new road usage fee for highly fuel efficient vehicles, allowing the measure to move on to the next committee.

House Bill 2453 requires drivers whose vehicles get 55 miles per gallon of gasoline or better to pay a tax after 2015. If drivers do not want to track their miles, they could opt to pay a flat amount annually. The flat rate would be $542.50 annually, compared to 1.55 cents per mile otherwise, as determined by the House Revenue Committee.

Since creating a task force in 2001, lawmakers have been looking to establish a new revenue system to offset the declines in gas tax revenue due to more fuel efficient vehicles and alternative fuel sources. The new per-mile tax would bring money to state roads.

The state’s gas tax is currently 30 cents per gallon, but vehicles such as electric cars avoid paying that because they don’t use gasoline.

The measure advanced from the House Revenue Committee with a 6-3 vote amid opposition from some House Republicans.

“The folks of Oregon are not willing to accept the responsibility of paying for that which they use absent an incredibly clear case,” said Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, who voted against the bill because he said the concept was not ready to move forward.

Under a pilot program for the per-mile charge, participants were able to track their miles through a smartphone application, GPS, or other non-GPS reporting devices.

By 2021, there will be an estimated 69,618 vehicles affected by the new road usage fee.

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