Bill description: Senate Bill 1072 establishes inspections of diesel vehicles to determine if they are using tax-exempt dyed fuel.

Rating: -2

Analyst’s Note: Federal and Idaho law allow drivers in certain cases to use tax-exempt diesel fuel. This fuel contains a specific dye and can only be used in vehicles licensed for off-road or agriculture use and for home heating. This fuel is exempt from the full 56.4 cents per gallon in state and federal taxes that go toward the Highway Distribution Account. The rationale: Dyed fuel powers vehicles that do not contribute to wear and tear on the state highways.

This bill is a replica of Senate Bill 1044 from earlier this session. The one difference is the inclusion of Section 63-2460(4) which would allow an authorized vehicle to cross roadways, if so needed, without being subject to penalties for unauthorized use of dyed fuel on the roadway.

Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government? 

The new inspection protocol outlined in S 1072 will expand the function of state, county, and city law enforcement officials, as well as employees of the Idaho Transportation Department. The bill authorizes these officials to undertake additional responsibilities, such as collecting and storing samples of fuel used and performing tests at portable and permanent stations. Said agencies, in conjunction with private groups, the Tax Commission, and other state agencies, would also undertake a six-month education campaign to alert the public to the new rules. This increased workload could eventually be used as grounds for hiring additional employees. The legislation does stipulate that no new resources could be devoted to this process, yet this might be equally detrimental to Idahoans. Longer lines that could form at truck weighing stations due to a longer inspection process, or law enforcement using valuable resources to enforce this law, rather than spending time protecting citizens from real danger, are a couple potential negative consequences that could result from the passage of this bill.  (-1)

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non- violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes? 

Currently, the penalty for using this tax-exempt fuel on highways is a misdemeanor, subject to a fine of $100 to $1,000 fine, along with a civil penalty that must be capped at $1,000 according to Idaho Code 63-2460. S 1072 increases allows for the fine to go all the way up to $10,000. S 1072 also adds a new penalty of $1,000 for refusing to allow the state to inspect a vehicle under the procedures listed in this bill. (-1)

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