January 21, 2021
By News Director Jared Atha
District 55 State Representative Todd Russ of Cordell has joined other representatives as co-author of a bill aimed to ensure all vehicles utilizing Oklahoma state highways are contributing to the cost of maintaining this system in a fair and equitable manner.
It was announced that State Rep. Kyle Hilbert of Bristow, has filed House Bill 2234, The DRIVE Act, and is expected to be considered during the upcoming state legislative session.
Along with Russ, seven other representatives have placed their name on the bill as co-authors.
In a joint statement, the representatives said state highway infrastructure is funded largely with fuel taxes that road users pay at the gas pump, however as more Americans transition to heavier electric, battery-powered automobiles, a greater burden is placed on the state’s fuel tax revenue, which is expected to decline.
The lawmakers say, in part, the bill enacts a tax per kilowatt hour at public for-profit charging stations. This will allow non-Oklahoma residents to support the funding of the road infrastructure they are utilizing while in the state. As the bill currently reads, a vehicle with a 50KW battery could fully charge for a tax of $3.50 or less. For comparison, a vehicle with a 16-gallon gas tank would pay $3.04 in state gas taxes to fill up completely, the proposed difference due to vehicle weight. It was stressed that the bill does not enact a tax on anyone utilizing residential charging stations.
Another part of the bill would enact an annual vehicle registration fee for electric vehicles, which would be comparable to what a vehicle with a gas engine would spend in a given year in fuel taxes as well as on weight. It also said in order to avoid double-taxing Oklahoma residents, the legislation supplies a tax credit for Oklahomans for the amount of taxes paid at public charging stations up to the amount of their annual electric vehicle registration fee.
Lawmakers said the revenues from this bill will be placed into the Driving on Road Infrastructure with Vehicles of Electricity Fund, which will supplement the state’s current ROADS Fund.
Oklahoma’s 2021 Legislative Session is scheduled to begin on February 1.