This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Utah House slammed the brakes on a proposal Wednesday to increase annual car registration fees to help fund roads.
SB231 died on an 11-51 vote, after its House sponsor, Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, noted it would be a tax increase.
That bill initially had proposed hiking registration fees by at least $10 a car annually. But fees for electric, hybrid and natural-gas vehicles would have skyrocketed by as much as $70 a year.
As the bill moved through the Legislature, the proposed hikes were reduced to a $6 bump for most cars with increases between $18 and $42 for various types of alternative-fuel cars. Current fees are $32.50.
Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, sponsor of the bill, had proposed higher hikes for alternative-fuel cars saying they now escape gasoline taxes.
"We're not treating all people who use the roads in the same fashion," he testified earlier.
Harper said an average gasoline-powered car in Utah spends $120 in gasoline tax. "A hybrid, in comparison, pays about $25 [in motor fuels tax]. An electrical vehicle pays nothing. Natural gas pays about $35. Propane pays nothing," he said.
The action comes as lawmakers are seeking a compromise on how to raise gasoline taxes, also to help fund roads.
Negotiators are discussing a five-cent-a-gallon tax increase initially, as pushed by the Senate.
The deal would also include replacing the current cents-per-gallon tax with a new House-proposed system that is somewhat like a sales tax.
It would charge a percentage of the price of wholesale gasoline and adjust it annually. That would cause taxes collected to rise automatically with gas prices.
However, both sides said a sticking point in negotiations is whether to allow counties to ask voters to approve a quarter-cent per dollar sales tax increase. It would be split between cities, counties and transit districts for local projects.
Senators have been fighting that proposal, while House members have been insisting on it.