Electric vehicle owners can breathe easy after House defeats bill to hike registration fees

Teslas and other electric vehicles take off from the
Holladay City Office for an electric vehicle parade on Saturday,
May 16, 2020.

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A drive to charge owners of electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles higher registration fees was unplugged by the House on Monday..

HB209 had gone through four iterations before finally being rejected with a vote of 27-44. The bill would have increased six-month and yearly registration fees for owners of electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and other alternative fueled vehicles in Utah.

"Why should gas owners continue to subsidize the road for electric vehicles?" asked bill sponsor, Rep. Kay J. Christofferson, R-Lehi. Most car owners pay for their use of the roads through gas taxes, something most alternative-fuel owners do not pay.

Proponents of Christofferson's bill, like House Majority Whip Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, said there are only two options to fixing the future transportation funding problem as more electric vehicles are used on the highways: increasing the registration fees or charging a road usage fee.

Opponents to his bill worried about discouraging Utahns from purchasing electric vehicles due to the higher registration fees, thus hampering efforts for improving air quality.

"We do have a contribution policy, we do not have a pay-for policy," said Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City. "When we talk about clean air, for me, it's personal. When we had inversions in December, my wife could not go outside because she had a hard time breathing. ... There are thousands of people on the Wasatch Front who are having a hard time breathing."


Some representatives wondered if the limited amount of money the change would raise for transportation funding would make much of a difference as electric cars comprise just 2% of registered vehicles.

"It makes me question if the juice is worth the squeeze," said Rep. Steve Waldrip, R-Eden.

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