Louisiana House Committee Proposes Usage Fees on Electric, Hybrid Vehicles

BATON ROUGE (The Center Square) — A bill to impose annual road usage fees for electric and hybrid vehicles gained approval from the House Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee.

Committee members voted 9-3 to approve House Bill 1031 to require owners of electric and hybrid vehicles to pay an annual road usage fee, “so those people driving hybrids and electrics are paying something for our roads and highways,” said Rep. Barbara Freiberg, R-Baton Rouge, the bill’s sponsor.

Freiberg said on Monday that the state Office of Motor Vehicles does not have a means to identify hybrid or electric vehicles and collects registrations every other year, so she worked with the Department of Revenue to include an annual fee on the state income tax form.

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“It says the Department of Revenue shall require each person filing an individual income tax return to report and certify on such return the number of electric vehicles and the number of hybrid vehicles registered in the state and owned by the filer,” she said.

“The Department of Revenue shall collect the fees imposed … at the same time and in the same manner it collects taxes,” Freiberg said.

HB 1031 dedicates 70% of the money collected to a Department of Transportation and Development fund for road and bridge projects, while 30% would go to the parish transportation fund to be distributed to local governments.

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The bill initially included annual fees of $400 for electric vehicles and $200 for hybrids, but was amended to lower the fees to $110 and $60, respectively.

“What we wanted to do in the bill initially was to collect what the average payer of a gas vehicle would pay in not only Louisiana gas tax, but also federal,” Freiberg said.

Instead, Freiberg limited the fee to what the average traditional car owner would pay annually from the state’s gas tax of 20 cents per gallon, coming up with a figure based on average miles traveled and miles per gallon.

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DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson told the committee other states have already adopted similar measures.

“The intent behind this bill is to establish a principle of paying a fair share,” he said. “And the fair share is that with the evolution and the growth in electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles that’s something we’re currently not taking advantage of.”

“Structurally, we don’t have a way to do that consistent with what we charge every other vehicle on the roads to be able to pay for their use of that road system,” Wilson said.

Wilson characterized the bill as a starting point for creating a system to charge those who use the roadways, regardless of fuel type.

Louisiana Secretary of Revenue Kevin Richard testified that the voluntary attestation the bill would include on state tax forms would be a relatively easy addition, with little cost to implement.

“This is something simple for us to do,” he said.

Lawmakers on the committee raised questions about how the possibility of eliminating state income tax would impact the fee collections, and how the state would collect the fee from commercial and municipal electric fleets, but Freiberg and officials stressed the HB 1031 is a starting point that can be amended as needed in the future.

Freiberg said adding the fee to business tax forms is something she’s considering as the legislation moves forward.

HB 1031 now moves to the full House for consideration.

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