Iowa House votes to add fee for electric vehicle registration

Source: By James Q. Lynch, The Gazette • Posted: Friday, April 19, 2019

(File photo) The dome of the Iowa State Capitol building from the rotunda in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Suspended across the dome is the emblem of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). The emblem, painted on canvas and suspended on wire, was placed there as a reminder of Iowa's efforts to preserve the Union during the Civil War. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
(File photo) The dome of the Iowa State Capitol building from the rotunda in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Suspended across the dome is the emblem of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). The emblem, painted on canvas and suspended on wire, was placed there as a reminder of Iowa’s efforts to preserve the Union during the Civil War. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Legislation that won bipartisan approval in the Iowa House will add a supplemental registration fee that, when fully phased in, will cost owners of electric vehicles an additional $130 a year.

The goal is to maintain the Road Use Tax Fund that supports construction and maintenance of Iowa roads and bridges, bill manager Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, said before the House voted 78-20 to send the bill to the Senate.

The Road Use Tax Fund provides 45 percent of the funds for state, county and city roads, Hinson said, and the goal of House File 767 is for every vehicle owner to support the transportation system.

“If you use the infrastructure, you should pay for it,” Hinson said.

The Iowa Department of Transportation is concerned that as electric vehicle sales grow, federal and state motor fuel tax revenues that traditionally have supported transportation will continue to decline. Registration fees on electric vehicles contribute to the Road Use Tax Fund but add little or nothing to fuel tax revenue, which makes up 40 percent of the fund, according to the DOT.

Hybrid and electric vehicles use less gasoline than standard gas-powered vehicles or no gas at all, but they do contribute to wear and tear on the transportation system. So the supplemental registration fees are seen as a way to maintain equity among drivers regardless of what fuels their vehicles.

Based on estimates by the Iowa Department of Transportation and the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, the impact from the growing use of electric vehicle — both battery electric and plug-in hybrids — could range from $19.6 million to $129 million by 2035 and as high as $240 million by 2040.

Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, acknowledged that he’s not paying his fair share to support the Road Use Tax Fund because he doesn’t pay motor fuel taxes when driving his electric vehicle.