By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wy.) Oct. 6 introduced legislation to require alternative fuel vehicle owners to pay user fees into the Highway Trust Fund  (HTF).

His “Fairness for Every Driver Act” is an attempt to achieve parity with the drivers of traditional gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. It would charge alternative fuel vehicle owners a user fee calculated on the average of what each vehicle class generates for the HTF each year.

“My legislation levels the playing field for all drivers across America,” Barrasso said.  “Gas, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles use the same roads. All should contribute to maintain them. My bill supports the Highway Trust Fund by making sure all drivers pay into the account that improves America’s roads.”

Barrasso’s legislation would also repeal the $7,500 federal tax rebate electric car purchasers currently receive for buying these vehicles.

The EPW committee oversees the policy side of federal highway programs, while the Senate Finance Committee is charged with the tax issues. If Barrasso remains chair of the EPW committee in the new Congress in 2019, his ideas on addressing the projected $18 billion annual HTF solvency gap will receive serious consideration in the Finance Committee.

While the electric vehicle fee proposed in Barrasso’s legislation would not come close to solving the entire HTF imbalance, it would certainly be a start, and at least ensure that all drivers are paying something into the system.

ARTBA will continue to work with Congress and the administration to fix the HTF insolvency problem before the FAST Act expires in 2020.

Read the proposed legislation, S. 3559.