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House Bill 361 — Electric vehicles, fees

House Bill 361 — Electric vehicles, fees

Parrish Miller
April 7, 2021

Bill Description: House Bill 361 would impose a massive fee increase on electric vehicle owners, and it would lay the foundation for a privacy-invading mileage tax. 

Rating: -3

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase any taxes, fees, or other assessments? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce any taxes, fees, or other assessments?

Under current Idaho law, owners of electric vehicles are forced to pay an exorbitant $140 surcharge on top of all the other registration fees normally assessed. House Bill 361 more than doubles down on this inequity by increasing the fee by 114% to $300.


Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?

House Bill 361 singles out buyers of particular goods by imposing a punitive fee. In addition to targeting the buyers of such goods, this unique fee also targets the sellers of such goods, who are thereby disadvantaged relative to the sellers of competing goods that carry no such surcharge. 


Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

House Bill 361 lays the groundwork for a privacy-invading mileage tax in Idaho. Tracking the movements of individuals, anticipated by such a tax, represents an unparalleled escalation of government surveillance, and opposition to it has long kept a mileage tax at bay. 

The bill says, "Instead of the three-hundred-dollar ($300) fee established in this section, the owner of an electric vehicle may elect to pay a per-mile charge of two and one-half cents (2.5¢) per mile driven. An owner electing to pay the per-mile charge shall be required to report mileage annually to the Idaho transportation department at a branch office of the department of motor vehicles."

Yes, it's optional — for now. But government has a very bad track record when it comes to creating optional or voluntary infringements on fundamental liberties. If the state creates the framework for a mileage tax, the temptation to make it mandatory — and to expand it to all drivers — will likely prove inescapable.

The government should not be tracking movements or mileage. It's an unacceptable invasion of privacy. 


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