Electric car owners in Arizona could face new registration fees

PHOENIX – The free ride for electric vehicle owners in Arizona could soon come to an end.

Members of the House Committee on Transportation and Technology have approved a plan to impose a new $135 annual registration fee on any vehicle that cannot run on gasoline or diesel fuel.

The largest category is plug-in electrical appliances. And the most recent figures from the Ministry of Transport show that there were 80,613.

That would add nearly $11 million a year to the fund used to maintain roads and build new ones.

It would also offset the fact that the owners of these vehicles do not pay the 18 cents per gallon tax on gasoline, the proceeds of which go to that same fund.

There is a mathematical basis for Rep. David Cook selected registration figure for these alternative fuel vehicles.

People also read…

Assuming an average motorist drives about 15,000 miles per year in a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon, that means he would buy about 750 gallons of gasoline. Add the 18 cent gas tax and it comes to $135.

Although HB 2866 cleared the committee on a 5-4 vote, some hurdles remain. And an important one is that, because it is a new tax, it requires a two-thirds majority of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

But the Globe Republican is promoting the fee as an alternative to a much less popular plan that would require owners of these alternative fuel vehicles to monitor their driving and impose a per-mile tax to compensate for not paying for gas. taxes. In fact, the same committee on a 6-5 vote approved sending a measure to the November ballot to prohibit not only the state, but any other level of government, from imposing any form of fee or tax based on mileage.

And for the record, HCR 2018 prohibits any law that limits the number of kilometers a person can travel.

That legislation is being championed by Rep. Travis Grantham, who said he drives vehicles that run on gasoline and diesel.

“Of the few freedoms we have left in this country, the freedom to travel is the only, or if not, one of the last freedoms that I hold most dear,” Grantham said in putting forward his proposal .

“And I’m terrified at the idea of ​​tyrannical forces coming down and saying, ‘You can only drive so many miles now,’ ‘You can only drive on this day of the week now,’ ‘We know you drove so much the last time kilometers’ next week, now you’re limited to this number of kilometers next week,’ he said.

And he said this is part of a bigger – and darker – agenda.

“The forces pushing these kinds of ideas want people to ride public transit, they want people to walk, they want people to bike,” Grantham said.

“They don’t want you driving a car,” he said. ‘Cars are our right. It is a matter of freedom.”

Still, Grantham acknowledged there is an issue of fairness.

“I actually believe there is still wear and tear on the roads,” he said.

“I believe we need to fund our roads,” Grantham continued. “I believe we have a responsibility to continually maintain our infrastructure.”

That’s why he said he would support Cook’s plan for that $135 amount.

While the number of electric vehicles on the road is relatively small — just a hair more than 1% of the nearly 8 million registered vehicles — the trend is clear: Three years ago, there were fewer than 35,000 all-electric vehicles in Arizona.

This all has to do with the question of whether the current model for financing roads with fuel taxes is sustainable.

The state collected $540 million in fuel taxes in 2023. That’s just 3.3% more than what the state collected in 2020, far less than inflation during that period.

It’s not just about the shift to alternative fuel vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average vehicle achieved 28 miles per gallon by 2023. That’s compared to 25.4 in 2020.

But despite more public transportation options and programs to get people out of their cars, there is no evidence that people are using the roads less.

One way to at least partially address the problem would be to raise the gasoline tax, which has not been increased since 1991.

The most recent bid was a 2019 bid from then-Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott. He argued that in 1991 the dollar was worth only 47 cents at that time.

This failed due to opposition from both sides of the political spectrum and due to a statement by the then government. Doug Ducey that he would veto it. And that still doesn’t solve the problem of vehicles that don’t use gasoline.

Even current Gov. Katie Hobbs has said she wants lawmakers to pass new laws to ensure electric car drivers pay for their money. But so far, the governor has not introduced his own plan or supported a specific proposal.

Howard Fischer is a veteran journalist who has been reporting since 1970 and covering state politics and the legislature since 1982. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, and Threads at @azcapmedia or email him at azcapmedia@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *