HARRISBURG — Motorists who register an electric vehicle in Pennsylvania would have to pay an annual fee, under lame-duck session legislation approved by the state’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday.
The bill, backed by a 132-70 vote, goes to the Senate for approval. Most Republicans voted for it, while most Democrats opposed it.
The provisions to impose the fee were inserted into an underlying bill just this week. The Sierra Club, which opposes the fee, said the “surprise move comes as the lame duck legislative session comes to a close, and could be fast-tracked in the Senate with minimal debate.”
Opponents said it is a bad idea to impose costs on people who own electric vehicles during the climate change fight and efforts to limit greenhouse-gas exhaust from vehicles that run on gasoline.
Backers of the bill, however, said it is only fair to charge people who own electric vehicles, since people who fuel their cars with gasoline are paying taxes that help build and repair roads.
The fee would be $75 per year for a hybrid gas-electric vehicle, $175 a year for an electric vehicle and $275 for an electric vehicle with a weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds, such as a city bus.
Policymakers have said in recent years that more electric vehicles and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road will eat into gas taxes that pay for road construction.
Twenty-eight states have laws requiring a special registration fee for electric vehicles while 14 states impose a fee specifically on hybrids, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Entities that are exempt from paying fuel taxes would also be exempt from the electric vehicle fee. That includes the state government, local governments and volunteer emergency response agencies.