Kansas House bill would hike registration fees on hybrid, electric vehicles to compensate for lost fuel tax revenue

photo by: Associated Press

This is a July 25, 2018 photograph of a Nissan LEAF automobile plugged into a electric vehicle charging station at a Whole Foods Market parking lot in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Owners of hybrid or electric vehicles will pay increased fees to register them with the state if a bill introduced this month in the Kansas House is signed into law.

The measure, House Bill 2372, would require an annual registration fee of $75 on hybrid passenger vehicles, such as the popular Toyota Prius, and a $150 fee for all-electric vehicles. The fee for all-gasoline-powered vehicles would be $30. Those fees would apply to all noncommercial vehicles weighing less than 4,500 pounds.

The bill’s supporters say the increase in registration fees will help the state recoup revenue from the fuel-efficient vehicles, which pay either less in fuel taxes or no fuel taxes at all. Kansas uses fuel taxes to fund highway construction and maintenance and other transportation projects.

Richard Proehl, the Parsons Republican who chairs the House Transportation Committee and was co-chairman of the Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force that suggested the fee increase, said the proposal was a forward-looking measure to help ensure the state will still have a highway fund revenue stream as the number of hybrid and electric vehicles on the state’s roads increases.

The task force worked last fall to craft recommendations for new funding sources and highway improvements as a step toward a new state transportation plan. It presented its recommendations to the Legislature in January.

Last fall, engineering firm Burns & McDonnell told the task force that 1,556 of the 1.5 million vehicles registered in Kansas were electric, the task force’s report said. With major auto manufacturers planning to ramp up production, the engineering firm said the number of electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles in the state, including hydrogen-powered vehicles, will increase 400 percent by 2040.

In its recommendations to the Legislature, the task force emphasized that the state’s fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees are having difficulty keeping pace with the increasing cost of maintaining and improving highways. The state’s fuel tax of 24 cents per gallon on gasoline and 26 cents per gallon on diesel has not increased since 2002, and data the Kansas Legislative Research Department shared in November with the task force showed that gasoline sales in the state had declined from about 1.45 billion gallons in 2002 to about 1.33 billion in 2017.

Rep. Eileen Horn, D-Lawrence, said the bill appeared to be identical to the one former Rep. Tom Sloan, a Lawrence Republican, introduced in each of the last two years. It was estimated the 2018 bill, which died in committee, would have raised $381,000 annually, she said.

Horn, who served as sustainability director for Douglas County before joining the Legislature in 2017, said the bill seemed in line with what other states were doing and a fair short-term solution to increasing state highway fund revenue. She also said she’d prefer it over new tolls that KDOT has proposed as a funding source for the expansion of Kansas Highway 10 from the U.S. Highway 50/Iowa Street interchange to Interstate 70.

“I think it is an equitable solution in the short term and preferable to paying tolls on the west leg of K-10,” she said. “Long-term, we’re going to have to find other solutions for transportation as more people move to electric or more fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Because of the popularity of hybrid cars in Lawrence, she requested information from the Kansas Legislative Research Department on fees other states had imposed on hybrid and electric vehicles when she learned the bill had been introduced, Horn said. From the report she received, she learned that 20 states already have increased registration fees for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Among the annual passenger car registration fees charged in other states are: $100 for zero-emission vehicles in California; $200 for alternative-fuel vehicles in Georgia; $50 for electric vehicles in Colorado; and $75 for electric or alternative-fuel vehicles in Missouri and Nebraska, according to the Research Department data.


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