WFSU Public Media reports that a proposal meant to support the construction of more EV charging stations passed its first committee stop today. This proposal would create a grant program that will allow state agencies, local governments, and more to apply and receive funding for developing plans to install charging stations.
The funds would cover the cost of installation as well as the purchase of equipment. The grants would be paid for by a proposed increase in license taxes for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) sponsored the bill and says the fees are needed because EV drivers don’t pay the gas tax that funds Florida’s transportation infrastructure.
“So, we have to look for another more elegant solution in order to bring in revenue from these vehicles that use our roads just like the internal combustion engine vehicles use the roads,” Brandes said.
The senator claimed that the fees outlined in his bill are middle-of-the-road amounts compared to those of other states. “Some states are at $250 per vehicle. We delineate based on weight,” he said. For EVs weighing less than 10,000 pounds, such as a Tesla, drivers would pay an additional $135 flat fee. Starting in January 2025, that fee will rise to $150. Fees on vehicles over 10,000 pounds will be higher, and plug-in hybrid cars would pay far less. While Brandes says that the fees are between the fees that others states charge, the vast majority of states don’t actually put any fees on electric vehicles. In fact, many states have extra purchase incentives/subsidies available for them, on top of the US federal ZEV tax credit.
Nick Howe, Vice President of the Florida Tesla Enthusiasts club, shared his thoughts on the idea of license fees for EVs. “We’re certainly, myself and the club, in support of license fees for [electric vehicles],” Howe said. “We want to make sure that we pay our fair share. We’re certainly not looking for any kind of free ride.”
Howe added, however, that the fixed fees weren’t fair because it doesn’t reflect how people are using their cars. “If you’re using your vehicle to undergo a few hundred miles a month, why should you be paying as much as someone who’s doing more than a thousand miles a month?” he questioned. His solution is to charge people based on their usage, which was something Senato Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach) also suggested to Brandes during a meeting on his bill:
“I’ve seen a couple of different analyses where they ask instead that the EV be taxed on the annual vehicle miles traveled. Have you considered using those formulas instead of a flat fee?”
Brandes has considered that, but what is holding him back is that no other state charges EV car drivers based on usage. “The one challenge that you have in Florida is the gas tax is really efficient for us to collect. We don’t collect it from every gas station. We collect it from the distributors, and there’s only a handful of distributors, versus every single [electric vehicle] owner, having to collect directly from them,” the senator said.
He also said that the cost of collecting the tax from every EV owner would burden the state. His bill expires the fees in 2030. Brandes expects that by then lawmakers will need to make changes.
Is charging electric vehicle owners an extra fee at such a low adoption rate sensible? Especially in a state that is not incentivizing them in order to help clean the air and stop climate catastrophe?
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