Friday, February 7, 2014

New bills proposed to worsen Utah air quality

Despite recent concerns about air quality in Utah, local Representative Wayne Harper (through SB139) has proposed raising licensing fees on hybrids, electric cars, and other low-emissions vehicles because he believes they're not paying their fair share of infrastructure costs. See here and here. He says
These cars are still having the same impact as other vehicles, but they do not have to pay for the wear and tear on our roads.
Yes, if they're driving the same miles. Sure. But, if you make it so highway funding comes from anywhere other than gas taxes, we're causing the exact problem that he's trying to avoid. Overall, those who drive more use more gas. And a tax on this gas is the wisest way to pay for vehicle-related infrastructure.

Rep Harper can be reached at

In other bad policy news coming out of the Utah legislature, Rep Johnny Anderson (pictured above) has proposed cutting the gas tax and raising the sales tax. Here are the details:
The 24.5 cent per gallon gas tax would be cut in half at the pump, only 12.25 cents per gallon. But the state’s general sales tax, now at 4.7 percent on all sales but unprepared food, would go up to 4.9 percent.
One of the touted perks of this bill:
Cutting our state gasoline tax in half should help gasoline retailers in Utah border towns.
Awesome! Even though it's not wise to breathe for much of our winters here in SLC, at least our border town gas stations are booming! Ah, the benefits of living in the Beehive State. By decreasing the gas tax, this insane (proposed) legislation would make people more prone to driving, despite the fact that SLC suffers from some of the worst air quality in the nation. Seriously, have these guys never heard of incentives? Our state is trying to find a way to fund infrastructure and clean the air. Call me crazy, but it seems as if both goals could be easily achieved by raising gas taxes.

Rep Anderson can be reached at

Postscript: for those wondering about the personal impact of my proposal, I must add that UTA should be enabled to vastly expand their bus system (via some of this gas tax revenue), such that commuters would actually be able to reduce their commuting costs overall.

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