The House Ways & Means Committee met on short notice this afternoon, and introduced three new vehicle registration fee increase bills. These are much, much smaller than Gov. Butch Otter’s earlier proposal for funding a road maintenance backlog, however, and less than half the magnitude of a $70 million car registration fee increase proposal floated by the Idaho Transportation Department last year. The first bill would increase truck registration fees, by differing amounts in different categories, to raise a total of $8.5 million per year. The second would raise car registration by a flat $24 per registration, to raise $30.2 million. The third would raise registration fees for school buses, motorcycles, on-road ATV’s and utility trailers, raising a total of $1.15 million per year. Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said a group of House members who worked on the bills wanted to achieve “parity” between car and truck registration fees, and that trucks pay much more in gas tax because they get so much lower mileage per gallon. House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, objected to that idea, noting that a presentation earlier to the same committee suggested that trucks do more damage to roads than cars, and don’t pay their share.
House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, noted that school districts wouldn’t be burdened by the proposed doubling of school bus registration from $24 to $54 because they’re reimbursed by the state for their transportation costs. House Transportation Chairwoman JoAn Wood, asked by a reporter why that proposal was included if the state would essentially be raising fees that it then has to pay, said, “There’s no saying this is going to pass. We’re doing a package.” Wood said House members want to develop a package of recommendations to the governor to address transportation, and the bills are part of that.
Senate Transportation Chairman John McGee, R-Caldwell, said, “I think there’s more discussion going on and the discussions have become more serious. … I’m happy to see that the House is beginning to move on this legislation. This is obviously going to be one of the last decisions we make this session.”