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Minutes for SB189 - Committee on Transportation

Short Title

Providing for an increase in registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Minutes Content for Tue, Mar 12, 2019

Chairperson Petersen opened the hearing on SB189.

Staff Adam Siebers reviewed the salient points of the bill.  He cited the two substantive points:  the new classification of hybrid/electric vehicles and the associated fee schedule of $75.

Proponents:

Ed DeSoignie, Economic Lifelines, testified in favor of the bill (Attachment 5).  He praised the movement toward electric-powered vehicles, which  will provide an estimated increase in revenue of $600,000 to the State Highway Fund in FY2020.  He cited other sources to show projections of future growth of this new technology.

Michael White, Kansas Contractors Association, spoke in support of the bill; he noted that infrastructure needs are increasing and that the bill will help address some of those needs.  He also commented that fairness would indicate that electric and hybrid vehicles should be directed to pay their share.  He cited national statistics regarding electric/hybrid vehicles and said that 21 states have already addressed these vehicles as a separate category (Attachment 6).  Mr. White responded to members' questions.  He replied that a registration fee is the simplest type of fee to collect; that although the fee might be a disincentive to purchase a hybrid vehicle, it is a suitable response to the Task Force recommendation; and that most states have chosen to ignore basing the fee on VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled).

Jacqueline Clark, Ash Grove Cement Company, spoke as a proponent (Attachment 7).  She explained that the company supported the work of the Task Force and concomitantly supports the provisions of the bill.  She noted that fees for electric/hybrid registrations range nationally from $50 up to $200 per vehicle.

The Chair referenced the following written-only testimony in support of the bill:

  • Jason Watkins, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce (Attachment 8);
  • Tom Palace, Executive Director, Petroleum Marketers, et.al (Attachment 9);
  • Kevin Walker, Vice President, Overland Park Chamber of Commerce (Attachment 10);
  • Travis Stryker, Chairman, Kansas Society of Professional Engineers' Government Relations (Attachment 11);
  • Whitney Damron, Kansas Good Roads, Inc. (Attachment 12); and
  • Scott Heidner, Executive Director, American Council of Engineering (Attachment 13).

Opponents:

Sandi Braden, Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, testified as an opponent.  She commended the work of the Task Force to revise the funding mechanisms for transportation infrastructure; however, she commented that the new fees of $150 for electric vehicles and the $75 fee for hybrid vehicles disproportionately punishes Kansas drivers.  She offered a clarifying definition to identify both conventional hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and she asked for assurance that, if the bill passes, the fees will be allocated to the State Highway Fund and not the State General Fund (Attachment 14).

Tami Alexander, Program Coordinator, Metropolitan Energy Center, noted three reasons to oppose the bill:

  • The wording identifying hybrid-electric vehicles could easily include bi-fuel or dual-fuel vehicles.
  • The proposed fees are disproportionate to the amount of lost revenue from motor-fuel taxes.
  • Any fixed fees are unfair to low-mileage drivers.

She noted that most states' comparable fees are lower, and she recommended that the fee structure for electric and hybrid vehicles be based on VMT (Attachment 15).

Ted Kramer, a resident of Big Springs, opposed the bill because it punished those who choose to drive electric or hybrid vehicles (Attachment 16).  He listed benefits of driving these vehicles:  The vehicles cause less pollution of the environment and the higher original cost of these vehicles generates more sales tax, as do recurring electric bills.  He cited figures to show that the limited number of electric/hybrid vehicles compared with other vehicles will generate negligible additional revenue, and he stated that other states have lower fees.

Zach Pistorius, Kansas Sierra Club, stated his opposition to the bill; he observed that the increased fees will be a disincentive for those considering an electric/hybrid vehicles; he recommended a wider array of fees to support transportation infrastructure and especially suggested VMT as a better basis for creating an equitable fee structure, as would an increase in the gasoline tax (Attachment 17).  A member commented that electric vehicles also pollute the atmosphere through coal-fired electricity generation.

Neutral:

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director, Clean Energy Business Council, recommended the development of a broader energy plan that would address infrastructure and energy needs more collectively (Attachment 18).  She noted that electric vehicles benefit energy companies by increasing electricity sales, and she cited the Iowa energy plan as a model to follow.  She also commented that the current SB69 will provide a helpful perspective on this complex issue.

A member requested further information on out-of-state traffic relative to electric/hybrid vehicles, on the number of recharge stations across the state, and what fees are collected.

Due to time constraints, the Chair declared a hiatus in the hearing, which will be resumed at the Committee meeting on Friday, March 15, 2019.  The meeting was adjourned at 9:28 a.m.