The Lead

Electric vehicle drivers in Pa. would pay $250/year fee under advancing state House bill

By: - September 19, 2019 3:35 pm

The Pennsylvania Turnpike (Douglas Muth/Flickr)

The state House has advanced legislation requiring electric vehicle drivers to pony up for the wear and tear they inflict on Pennsylvania’s roads and highways.

The majority-Republican chamber voted 94-90 to approve an amendment hitting drivers of hybrids or fully electric vehicles with a $250 annual fee.

Originally, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Caroll, D-Luzerne, proposed a $150 annual fee on those drivers. But the chamber’s Republicans instead inserted language to increase that fee by $100.

The fee would be paid when vehicle owners update their registration with the state.

“We all use our roads and bridges. We all should all pay to keep them safe,” House Transportation Committee Chairman Tim Hennessey, R-Chester, said during a floor debate.

Republicans also said drivers of fully gas-powered vehicles pay on average $272 a year through the gas tax.

Democrats resisted the move, saying it doesn’t take the reality of electric vehicle use into account.

Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia, who drives an electric car, said that the lack of fast charging infrastructure in Pennsylvania limits his range to take a long road trip. 

“I cannot go drive from Philly to Pittsburgh in my electric vehicle unless I want to find a charging system off the [Pennsylvania] Turnpike,” Rabb said.

Because Rabb is not free to travel “hither and yon” across the state like his internal combustion engine driven colleagues, he felt the smaller fee was fair.

Under the law, commercial electric vehicle drivers would also be charged $250 a year. Drivers of electric motorcycles would be required to pay a $50 fee each year.

Pennsylvania pays for most of its highway and road improvements with its gas tax, the highest in the nation. Owners of plug-in electric vehicles are currently supposed to submit monthly statements of their electricity use to the state Department of Revenue, and remit the alternative fuel tax.

“However, most electric vehicle owners don’t do this because the process for remitting the alternative fuel tax is cumbersome, or they are unaware that they have to,” a memo from Carroll reads.

The House needs to vote on the bill a final time before sending it to the Senate. If passed by the upper chamber, the legislation would head to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is the Capital-Star's House reporter. He previously covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter. You can reach him at 845-891-4306.

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