AUSTIN (KXAN) — By a vote of 145-0 Thursday, the Texas House gave approval to legislation that would impose an annual $200 fee on drivers of electric vehicles.
The bill, known as Senate Bill 505, already passed the Senate on March 29, so it’s now headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature, which would make it become law in Texas.
The bill’s author, Republican Sen. Robert Nichols of Jacksonville, wrote in comments about the legislation, “As more of these vehicles drive on Texas roads, there are concerns about how they contribute to the funding of the roads which they use. Currently, Texas uses the gasoline/diesel fuel tax to fund transportation projects; however, with the growing use of EVs, the revenue from the fuel tax is decreasing, which diminishes our ability to fund road improvements for all drivers.”
Furthermore, Nichols wrote EVs use the same roads as petroleum-powered vehicles, so they should be “subject to an equalization of road use consumption amount.”
During a Senate transportation committee hearing on March 22, Nichols further explained, “Electrical vehicles are a new paradigm shift in the transportation world. They’re a growing part of our system. We recognized some time ago that each time an all-electric vehicle does get on the road and displaces a gasoline or diesel vehicle that the state highway fund loses money. So the object here is to try to identify how much money do we lose on both state and federal and try to make that up with a fee adjustment.”
In response to the House approving the bill Thursday, Luke Metzger, the executive director of Environment Texas, released a statement condemning the vote. He wrote, “The Texas Legislature is pouring sugar in the tank of the electric vehicle revolution. This punitive fee will make it harder for Texans to afford these clean vehicles which are so critical to reducing air pollution in Texas.”
The legislation would require someone who buys a new electric vehicle to pay a $400 fee to register it, while there would be a $200 fee for those who renew their registration. The bill also stipulates revenue collected from these fees would go to the state highway fund.
If the governor signs the bill into law, it is set to go into effect on Sept. 1.