Recently, Texas took a pretty harsh stance against owners of electric vehicles by proposing Senate Bill 1728, which would punish EV owners for simply owning an EV. That sounds cliche, but in essence, this is exactly what the bill is doing while being disguised as “fairness.” The claim was that EV owners need to pay their fair share and make up for fuel taxes that they don’t pay. (We’ll come back to this faulty logic in a few moments.) The proposed fee was previously an additional $200 EV tax. That fee has now gone up.
BREAKING NEWS: The Texas House Transportation Committee just voted on a committee substitute for SB 1728. It is not any better than the original.https://t.co/zcwVGsk4me
— Tesla Owners of Austin (@AustinTeslaClub) May 14, 2021
The Tesla Owners Club of Austin shared some updates on this harsh bill through Tesla’s Engage Network. The Texas House Transportation Committee voted on a committee substitute for SB 1728 and it’s actually worse than the original. The bill includes:
- $190–$240 annual EV fee
- A scaled VMT (vehicle miles traveled) fee (if you travel more than 9,000 miles/year, the fee is $150+)
- $10 annual surcharge that funds a new charging infrastructure advisory council.
Added together, those numbers total $250 to $400+ in annual fees. Tesla owners, other OEMs, TXETRA, and other allies united to reach out to members of the House committee, but this group seems to be completely in favor of making EV owners pay. SB 1728 is being pushed by the Association of General Contractors under the false claims that EV drivers should be taxed so that people will benefit from jobs created by the highway fund projects.
Perhaps the 10,000 jobs that Tesla is bringing to the state aren’t enough and state officials want to condemn EV owners instead. It should be noted that Texas has long had a pretty harsh outlook for Tesla and other manufacturers selling directly to consumers. Currently, EV owners in Texas are not allowed to take delivery of their vehicles from Tesla in the state — they have to either travel out of state or arrange a third party to ship their vehicles to them. For those who will be purchasing made-in-Texas Teslas, this also applies. Tesla will have to ship the made-in-Texas Teslas out of state, where either a third party will deliver to the customer at the customer’s expense or the customer has to travel to pick up their vehicle. Unfortunately, Texas isn’t the only state that is seemingly anti-EV. Many states have this problem.
Additionally, one of the core reasons much of the world is eager to switch to electric transport is that gasoline-powered vehicles create enormous societal costs — billions of dollars a year in health-related costs in the US, and similar for climate costs. Those costs are not included in the price of cars, SUVs, and trucks. Electric vehicles, however, eliminate those costs. So, if we are not going to price in these extra societal costs from fossil fueled vehicles, it makes no sense to start charging electric vehicles extra fees and taxes.
The bill unfairly targets electric vehicle drivers, asking them to pay more than their fair share. The article shows how people can take action
— Tesla Owners of Austin (@AustinTeslaClub) May 14, 2021
The analysis provided by the Texas Comptroller’s office showed that the additional fees would apply to around 300,000 vehicles in the fiscal year 2022 and the implementation of the extra fees would raise $37.8 million starting in 2022. The table below shows how much money the bill could raise from 2021 through 2026 if passed.
Contact Your Texas Leaders
The Tesla Owners Club of Austin pointed out that this is a great time to contact your Texas legislators again as well as members of the House Transportation Committee and ask them to vote against SB 1728. If you are not sure what to say, you can simply say this:
“Voting no on SB 1728 is voting FOR thriving jobs as well as clean trucks and cars made in Texas!”
EV owners shouldn’t have to pay unreasonable taxes, and they already contribute to the state revenues today through registration fees, tolls, and taxes on the electricity that they use. This new bill proposes much higher fees for EV drivers than what an efficient ICE vehicle owner would pay at the pump in taxes. Perhaps a carbon tax would be a fairer alternative. Taxing companies and products that pollute the air is a great start. However, the politicians who are funded by big oil and fossil fuels may lose their funding if they even breathe the words “carbon tax.” So, that is not moving forward at the moment.
To contact or find your legislators, click here.
The bill, if passed into state law, will go into effect on September 1, 2021.
Who Is Pushing SB 1728?
The bill is sponsored by Senators Charles Schwertner (R), Robert Nichols (R), and Beverly Powell (D). Senator Schwertner is a physician, Senator Nichols is an engineer in the plastics manufacturing industry but also serves as the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and Senator Powell noted in her bio that she works in real estate.
I was also informed by the Tesla Owners Club of Austin that there’s another organization that is heavily pushing this bill. They received this information from a confidential, unnamed source. That organization is called Texas Infrastructure Now.
Texas Infrastructure Now’s website shared a list of coalition members that are in support of something. The bill itself isn’t listed The webpage simply says, “Coalition Members supporting a constitutional amendment for increased state funding for transportation.” There’s also a link that leads to an empty-ish webpage encouraging the visitor to show their support. I say empty-ish because it still has the header and footer, which shares the organization’s goal (that footer is on many webpages.) When I clicked on their “learn more” link, it took me to a contact form.
It should be noted that at the very bottom of the website, it says, “Pol. adv. paid for by Texas Infrastructure Now PAC,” which, according to Transparency USA, is dissolved. Odd that a dissolved organization is paying for political advertising. In the image below, I blurred out the treasurer’s name and the address of the organization.
I couldn’t find much about this organization other than a couple of Facebook posts — but no reference to the bill itself. I do find it odd that the organization didn’t mention the bill on its website. If I was trying to rally the support of a constitutional amendment, I’d have all of the information available.
The fact that some lawmakers in our nation are so hellbent on blocking progress on climate and clean energy should disturb you. Why are they so against it? Why create these extreme fees for electric vehicle drivers? Do they not realize that if they push these inane laws that they would discourage people from switching from ICE to electric? Or is that the sole point?
Instead of pushing the idea of the wealthy EV owner not paying taxes, how about we push the idea of the wealthy fossil fuel industry not paying taxes. I like what Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, said earlier today and agree with him that we need a carbon tax. Imagine if we taxed Exxon and all of the others a percentage on all of the carbon that is pumped into the air. These companies would then be forced to find innovative ways to produce without polluting.
💯 💯 💯
Tax the industry that pours carbon out like it’s liquid gold. If a company makes it, it should be held responsible for providing a path or design that it can break it down or recycle it. ♻️
— K10✨ (@Kristennetten) May 13, 2021
As Kristen said in the tweet above, we need to tax the industry that just pours carbon out. If a company makes it, then it should be held responsible for it. But, no, let’s just punish EV owners instead.