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After ramming through gas tax hike, Keough wants another look

After ramming through gas tax hike, Keough wants another look

Dustin Hurst
February 12, 2016
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February 12, 2016

After the 2015 Idaho Legislature rammed through a $95 million gas-tax and registration-fee hike, one senator wants to re-examine part of the bill.

Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, introduced legislation Thursday to repeal a $75 per year fee for hybrid vehicle owners. However, the plan would keep the $140 per year registration fee lawmakers imposed on most electric vehicles.

The plan would make an exception for certain electric vehicles, like golf carts.

Keough’s measure would reduce road funding $1 million annually. The Idaho Department of Transportation would see a $600,000 funding drop under the plan, while local highway districts would absorb the rest.

The senator intimated the Legislature might have been sloppy when determining how to hike taxes and registration fees. “I tried to revisit how we got to the [hybrid fee] that we got, but was depressed to find a lack of hard numbers on how we got there,” Keough told the Senate Transportation Committee.

After fielding several constituent calls, including one who said his hybrid car’s fuel economy matched that of a gas-fueled Honda Civic, Keough decided to reopen the tax hike she supported.

“There seemed to be some inequity in that,” she said.

The committee introduced the proposal without dissent and will likely give it a full hearing within the next two weeks.

After the House and Senate failed to agree on the tax hike during the 2015 session, representatives from each chamber hammered out a compromise plan in a joint conference committee. That plan hiked the gas tax by 7 cents a gallon, registration fees by $20 for cars, SUVs and pickup trucks, and added the extra fees for hybrid and electric cars.

Legislators approved the tax and fee hike shortly after midnight last April. It took effect July 1, 2015.

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