A bill adding $150 to the cost of licensing an electric vehicle in Tennessee, which legislative staff estimated would add $2 million annual to revenue for the state’s highway fund, has died quietly in a Senate committee.
No member of the Senate Transportation Committee would make the required motion for passage of SB1451 when sponsor Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, brought it before the panel. There was no debate beyond Green’s explanation of the measure, which he said would end the “free ride” now enjoyed by electricity-powered cars that avoid paying the state’s gas tax.
As drafted, the bill would have also added $75 to the license fee for a hybrid vehicle.
Green told committee members there was some confusion about defining a “hybrid” and he had prepared an amendment to drop the fee increase for hybrid vehicles. That was not discussed either after no one made the necessary motion.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, said afterward that he, and apparently other members of the committee, felt the bill represented a piecemeal approach to resolving the state’s need for more money in the highway fund and preferred to wait for a more comprehensive solution. Green said he had also heard similar comments from colleagues.
Gov. Bill Haslam has spent months declaring a need for more road-construction revenue, but without making any specific proposal — one almost certain to involve increasing Tennessee fuel taxes, which have not been raised since 1989. Tracy was among lawmakers urging the governor to wait until next year, a suggestion the governor has accepted.
Haslam has proposed transferring $130 million in surplus general fund money to the highway fund this year — about half the amount proposed by Tracy, House Speaker Beth Harwell and some other legislators.