A bill to end the free ride for electric and hybrid vehicle owners on Louisiana roads won final passage in the Legislature Sunday, setting the stage for the first road usage fees in the state.
If Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signs House Bill 1031 by Republican Baton Rouge Rep. Barbara Freiberg as expected, Louisiana owners of all-electric vehicles will be charged annual fees of $110, while hybrid owners will be charged $60.
Edwards is expected to sign the bill into law since his Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson testified in favor of the legislation.
Freiberg said EV and hybrid owners have been getting a free ride on Louisiana’s roads and bridges because they either pay no gasoline taxes or a reduced amount in the case of hybrids.
Most of the tax revenue generated to pay for upkeep and improvement of existing roads and bridges is through the 20-cents-per-gallon state gasoline tax.
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Wilson said the average driver of gasoline-powered engines in Louisiana pays $148 per year in state gas taxes, though that varies by the make, model and number of miles someone drives.
“I think it’s only fair everyone who uses our roads pays something,” Freiberg said.
Since Freiberg’s bill institutes a new fee it required a two-third vote for passage in both the House and Senate.
EV and hybrid owners would begin paying the fee in 2023 through the Louisiana income tax form with the state relying on voluntary compliance.
“This intent is to establish the principle of paying a fair share,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Louisiana has $14.8 billion in deferred transportation maintenance projects. Thirteen state bridges have already been closed this year because they’re either unsafe or in disrepair.
“I do believe it puts us all on a level playing field,” said Republican Haughton Rep. Dodie Horton during committee debate.
Thirty states have already imposed taxes or fees on EVs and hybrids, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among them are neighbors Arkansas and Mississippi. Texas doesn’t yet impose a fee for EVs and hybrids, though Freiberg said legislation is being presented there as well.
“We are in line or lower than our surrounding states,” Freiberg said of the proposed fees.
Freiberg’s bill would dedicate 70% of the revenue generated from the fees to the upkeep of state roads and bridges, while 30% would go to local roads and bridges.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1