The Lead

Senate committee advances bill eliminating alternative fuels tax for EVs, creating new fee

By: - June 7, 2023 11:14 am
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania lawmakers have advanced legislation creating a new fee for electric vehicle owners.

The Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee voted 13-1 to approve a Republican-authored bill eliminating the alternative fuels tax on electric vehicles and replacing it with a $290 annual flat fee — or pay $24.17 each month — for noncommercial EV drivers.

Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-Allegheny, was the only lawmaker to oppose the measure.

“Senate Bill 656 will simplify the collection of fees and revenues for electric vehicle owners and ensure that all drivers have the ability to contribute their fair share towards the maintenance of Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges,” Sen. Greg Rothman, R-Cumberland, who wrote the bill, said on Wednesday.

Currently, drivers who use alternative fuels — such as natural gas, electricity, liquid propane gas, and hydrogen — are subject to the alternative fuels tax, which converts each alternative fuel to a gallon of gasoline-equivalent. Drivers and dealers remit the tax, reporting and paying fuel sold or used monthly to the Department of Revenue.

However, not every EV driver files these monthly reports or doesn’t know they should, Rothman said.

His legislation would require EV drivers to pay the fee upon vehicle registration and at every renewal. The funds would go toward the state Motor License Fund, which helps pay for infrastructure and the Pennsylvania State Police.

“We want to make it simpler, much simpler, for owners of electric vehicles to simply pay an annual fee,” Rothman said, estimating the fee to generate roughly $15 million annually based on the 43,000 EVs in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, the House and Senate transportation committees hosted hearings about ways to ensure alternative fuel users pay their fair share of road taxes, examining mileage-based road use fees, increased registration fees, and flat-rate EV fees.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairperson Wayne Langerholc, R-Clearfield, said the bill ensures that EV drivers pay their fair share.

“Each day that we wait to tackle this issue is a day that we leave money on the table,” Langerholc said.

Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the bill maintains fairness by offering an affordable fee for EV drivers to contribute to infrastructure investments.

“Simply put, there is no denying that electric vehicles are the future across this commonwealth and beyond,” Flynn said. “It is our responsibility to implement well-designed fee structures to strike the right balance between supporting the growth of the EV market and funding the infrastructure development.”

Rothman’s bill now goes to the full Senate.

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