OLYMPIA —A proposed $100 fee on electric vehicles, to help pay for road construction and maintenance from which those cars benefit without paying gasoline taxes, passed the Senate today after a ruling that it needed only a simple majority.
SB 5251 would require electric car owners to pay an extra C-note every year when they get their license tabs. Supporters say it's only fair that they pay for some of the wear and tear on the roads, while opponents say that it's a way of punishing electric car drivers after years of encouraging them to get away from internal combustion engines and save the planet.
A vote on the bill was delayed last week when Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, questioned whether it wasn't really a tax, which would require a two-thirds majority for approval. Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who decides such things as president of the Senate, had the issue researched and ruled around noon today that no, it's a fee and needs only a simple majority.
The proposal passed 30-16, with one absent and two excused.Among Spokane-area legislators, Lisa Brown, Bob Morton and Mark Schoesler voted yes, Mike Baumgartner and Jeff Baxter voted no.
The bill has a formula for how the fees would be distributed, once a special fund created for that money reaches $1 million. It must still pass the House.