Filing Addresses Long-term Transportation Infrastructure Funding

Mike Seals - January 21, 2021 11:17 am

OKLAHOMA CITY –  State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, has filed House Bill 2234, The DRIVE Act, to ensure all vehicles utilizing our state highways are contributing to the cost of maintaining this system in a fair and equitable manner.

Joining as co-authors of the legislation are State Reps. Brian Hill, R-Mustang; Dustin Roberts, R-Durant; Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, Todd Russ, R-Cordell, Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee, Nicole Miller R-Edmond; and State Sens. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole; and James Leewright, R-Bristow.

“Currently, this infrastructure is funded largely with fuel taxes that road users pay at the gas pump,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “As more Americans transition to heavier electric, battery-powered automobiles, a greater burden is placed on our state’s fuel tax revenue, which inevitably will begin to decline.

“This problem is not unique to Oklahoma and is one that all fifty states must address at some point in the near future.

“While some states have passed laws that are punitive to the electric vehicle industry, the intent of this legislation is simply equity. This is a three-part bill, which goes to great lengths to collect revenue in a fair manner.”

Part 1 of this bill enacts a tax per kilowatt hour at public for-profit charging stations. This will allow non-Oklahoma residents to support the funding of the road infrastructure they are utilizing while in the state. As the bill currently reads, a vehicle with a 50KW battery could fully charge for a tax of $3.50 or less. For comparison, a vehicle with a 16-gallon gas tank would pay $3.04 in state gas taxes to fill up completely, the proposed difference due to vehicle weight. The bill does not enact a tax on anyone utilizing residential charging stations.

Part 2 of this bill enacts an annual vehicle registration fee for electric vehicles tied directly to what the average comparable vehicle model powered only by a combustion engine would spend in a given year in fuel taxes as well as on weight. Annual registration fees are the method most states have used to collect revenue from their residents for EV use.  What makes this legislation unique, the lawmakers said, is that instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, the fee will vary based on vehicle model so that a two-door electric sedan pays less than a four-door electric pickup.

Part 3 of the bill recognizes that while most EV users charge their vehicles at home, there are some who don’t or who take the occasional road trip. In order to avoid double-taxing Oklahoma residents, the legislation supplies a tax credit for Oklahomans for the amount of taxes paid at public charging stations up to the amount of their annual electric vehicle registration fee.

The revenues from this bill will be placed into the Driving on Road Infrastructure with Vehicles of Electricity (DRIVE) Fund, which will supplement the state’s current ROADS Fund. The ROADS fund has been instrumental in taking Oklahoma from bottom ten to top ten in the country in bridge conditions.

“It has taken many years and much input from stakeholders to reach this point,” the lawmakers said. “Thankfully, we have a framework in place with this legislation to ensure Oklahoma will have adequate funding for our transportation infrastructure for generations to come, and that all users will contribute equally to its success.”

 

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