The Idaho Senate Wednesday advanced a bill to rescind the registration surcharge imposed on hybrid vehicles imposed last year, with several Prius-driving lawmakers dutifully owning up to the potential conflict.
The rescinding measure passed 27-7, with opponents, including pick-up driving Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, noting that gas-only vehicles on balance still pay more in usage fees than hybrid drivers.
Last year’s transportation bill imposed the hybrid surcharge along with imposing a 7-cent increase in the gas tax. The hike for hybrids was intended to balance with the higher fuel cost for gasoline-only vehicles and applied to any vehicle classified as a hybrid by its manufacturer.
Giving up the $75 surcharge has a projected $1 million impact on funding for road and bridge maintenance. Some opponents Wednesday objected to the loss of funding for the state’s challenged and underfunded transportation network.
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“We have dangerous conditons in some locations because we have not fully funded roads,” said Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell.
Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said the bill also made no provision for reimbursing hybrid owners who have already paid the higher fee.
But sponsor Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and other supporters noted that the higher fee was in fact penalizing hybrid owners more than creating equity. Some gas-powered vehicles now deliver fuel efficiency comparable to or even better than hybrids.
The surcharge “was supposed to correct for the premise of hybrid and electric vehicles paying a fair share that they were not currently, and it can be arguably demonstrated that that is not the case,” Keough said.
The bill, which also exempts local-use-only electrics such as street-legal golf carts, now moves to the House.