Oklahoma Supreme Court Finds Electric Car Fee Unconstitutional

Electric Car

OCT 26 2017 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 76

Electric Car

Chevrolet Bolt EV – Some believe that electric car owners should contribute to construction and road repairs since they don’t pay the gas tax.

Though lawmakers provided justification for a new hybrid and electric car fee, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rules it unconstitutional.

The fee was a last minute addition by Oklahoma legislators that would have charged $100 per year per electric car and $30 per year for hybrids. The court compared it to another tax on cigarettes, which it also deemed unconstitutional. However, there’s a significant difference between the two would-be fees. The cigarette taxed aimed to fuel the state with about $215 million toward its annual budget, whereas the electric car tax may have only amounted to about $500,000.

Electric Car

BMW i3 & i3s

Of course, over a longer period of time, an electric car fee would continue to generate more revenue, as adoption will increase significantly year-over-year.

Lawmakers looked at this as a great opportunity to build up some much-needed funding for construction and road repairs. They argued that electric vehicle drivers aren’t contributing to infrastructure since this type of revenue comes directly from the gas tax.  Executive director of the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors, Bobby Stem, representing road builders, shared:

“Our roads and bridges are taking a beating from these heavier vehicles, yet they do not contribute equitably to maintenance and repair. I understand and appreciate why people might want to invest in these eco-friendly vehicles, however, we must make sure that they pay their fair share for upkeep of the infrastructure.”

Nonetheless, the court didn’t see it the same way. The final ruling was 6-3 in favor of eliminating the electric car fee. It was found to be unconstitutional since it made no attempt to change or create regulations, but rather only to raise revenue. Justice Joseph Watt explained:

[House Bill 1449] “clearly levies a tax in the strict sense of the word and the incurred revenue from it is not incidental to its purpose.”

Further, in order to raise taxes, a certain set of rigorous criteria must be met. Then, the bill must receive a three-fourths majority vote. Bills also must be adopted at least a week before session ends. The Sierra Club filed the lawsuit pertaining to this bill, stating that due process was not followed.

Source: NewsOK

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76 Comments on "Oklahoma Supreme Court Finds Electric Car Fee Unconstitutional"

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Please forward this to the GA state Government and their ridiculous $208 / year EV fee.

Why would Oklahoma state constituion have any precedent?

The fee/tax was not the issue, it was only the process it was approved with.

That’s not what the judge said…

[House Bill 1449] “clearly levies a tax in the strict sense of the word and the incurred revenue from it is not incidental to its purpose.”

So while the approval process may have been part of the issue, the court ruled there were issues with the tax as well.

Money $$$ Must fall from the sky in Oklahoma. I wonder who pays for road maintainance and repairs in Oklahoma .Ev’s Use these roads so they should contribute their share I would think.

EV’s Should Pay a Road Tax, for the Proportionate Damage They Do – Right! Just as Soon as Oil Refiners and Marketers pay a similar tax for the Damage on the Health of the citizens of the world, with the Sale of Diesel, JP4, Pet-A, Gasoline, and Marine Fuel (Tanker Sea) Crude Fed Engines, that just 17 or so of them pollute as much as all the cars on the road!

And as soon as the losses in Earnings of Each person getting Cancer is losing by dying early, from their pollution! So – sure, I agree, EV’s SHOULD Pay ‘Their Fair Share’ Right after those hollering about it – Pay THEIR Fair Share, after having Paid NONE for DECADES!!

+1 to Robert Weekley

Yup! Exactly! This paying-fair-share argument does not hold up!

Robert Weekly for the Win!

I’m NOT an ICE Guy . Infact I hate ICE cars & all the EV Bashing & discrediting ICE Makers are doing against EV’s..& I agree with you on all Fronts…I’m just saying that I would would Pay My “Fair Share” if required , and get Those Polluters off the roads..Lets not forget that there is a Road tax on Gasoline that is applied for road repairs on ICE cars…NOT saying this to Defend ICE in any way shape or form. But if it came right down to it ., I would pay my share because I Too use the same roads.There is no such thing as a free lunch. Cheers!

What about all the medical care expenses states have from emission related illnesses? Who is paying for that? EV fees and roadblocks are very short sighted.

The only vehicles doing road damage are Class 5,6,7,8.
Damage is directly proportional to the Weight of the vehicle, or the pounds per sq inch if weight on the tire patch.

These EV’s, in the scientific sense, are doing ZERO road damage, because it’s not physically possible for them to do so.

Class 5,6,7,8 TRUCKs.

And it would be a good idea to TAX by vehicle weight.
That would give these companies incentive to build these Trucks with Aluminum, or even Carbon Fiber.

A weight disincentive TAX would reduce Road Damage from the vehicles actually CAUSING road damage.

Or, they could put and additional tire axle and more wheels on the road, if you taxed by pounds per sq. inch of pressure on the road.

That would be a fair tax, and it would ACTUALLY reduce road damage.

I don’t know about other states, but in California they already do this. Trucks are taxed by their GVW and they grouped into different tax brackets based on the weight. I used to own and operate a fleet of heavy trucks. My average registration for my heaviest trucks was about $1700 a year. How much is your registration?

In California anyhow, trucks do pay more for their share of the damage.

Sorry that’s a drop in the bucket. Heavy trucks to 100x the damage of cars.

That is common everywhere…Every one is taxed accordingly..Nobody gets a Free ride..This NOT to defend ICE..

Actually the wear and tear is proportional with the *axle* weight raised in third power.

Small vehicles with axle weight below 6 tons have negligable road wear.

Regardless, There are many Countries & places That have “TOLL ROADS” everyone using them Pays a fee. Nothing is Free..We all Know this..

EVs are probably 0.1% in Oklahoma.

The myth that ‘normal’ cars wears down the road has been debunked every time someone looks into the facts.
The facts are:
– Heavy vehicles does the most road wear (Weight per axle at 6+ metric tons). Actually these heavy vehicles grinds the stones below the asphalt.
– Cars with spiked tires wears the asphalt from the top
– all other ‘normal’ cars have close to zero impact on the road’s wear&tear

Agreed. I did an analysis sometime ago comparing a Nissan LEAF to a Fully Loaded Nissan Versa. Once you figure the total taxes paid (sales taxes and gas taxes over 5 years of driving 12,000 miles per year) the LEAF contributes more tax dollars to the state coffers in most states thanks to the fact the LEAF costs twice what a Versa does. So a LEAF does in fact contribute more as you suggest it should.

Adding additional fees turns them into an EV Penalty, which is why the OK judge threw it out.

The point is that it was ruled unconstitutional based on the Oklahoma constitution, so this affects nobody in Georgia one way or the other.

ClarksonCote:
“So while the approval process may have been part of the issue, the court ruled there were issues with the tax as well.”

There were issues, but it doesn’t mean new taxes are illegal in Oklahoma. Something similar will be added next time following due process.

$0.5 million revenue isn’t something that makes big difference now anyway.

I agree on all points.

So a precedent has been established, by a state SC, that these fees are illegal.

A replacement of the gas tax with a BEV tax makes sense. If it takes into account how little wear and tear the BEV’s put on the road while acknowledging there should be a fee for use of the road. California has the highest Fed/State tax combo at nearly 70 cents a gallon so a $300 to $400 yearly fee is appropriate. Most other State taxes are much lower so the annual BEV fee should be more in the $90 to $200 range.

If taxes were proportional to wear and tear, then 18-wheelers would be paying several times more per gallon than passenger vehicles.

We should be shifting road taxes onto heavy duty trucks, not making EVs overpay as much as ICE cars do.

To be fair, heavy commercial trucks (18-wheelers at least; I dunno about other classes of trucks) do pay additional road use taxes and fees. Now, I’ve seen it argued that they still don’t pay their fair share, since it’s claimed that heavy trucks do almost all the damage that’s done by vehicles to the roads; but they do pay more than just the tax on diesel at the pump.

The right way to do this is to assess all passenger vehicles a yearly fee based on weight, regardless of drivetrain.

Alternatives are based on tracking how many miles you drive combined with weight, but I personally think they are not worth the tradeoff in loss of privacy. Picking some average number of miles and using it for every car is good enough.

Actually. This is what’s really happening.
Reduction of oil imports from Canada and Saudi Arabia.
Balance of Trade deficit Reduced.
Local Utilities more Profit.
Local JOBS at utilities Increased.
Local Solar and Wind Installs increases, causing More Local Jobs.
More Local Jobs increases the Money Multiplier as more money runs back and forth thru the economy.

Not to mention the Lower Sickness Rate as More Pollution is reduced from the environment, from cleaner air, to no oil spills in our rivers, lakes and streams. Reducing fracking pollution too will have greatly increased health benefits.

So, no you don’t want to tax EV’s until later in the process.

@Brent. Absolutely rational. Weight x miles driven, for all vehicles. Miles driven is already built-in with gasoline taxes. EVs pay 0, not really fair, unless you count the numerous other benefits of EVs.

All studies I’ve seen show that the damage is highly non-linear with weight, not proportional, e.g. 2x the weight per axle will do over 10x the damage.

Simply multiplying mileage times distance is wholly inadequate.

Weight per axle raised to the third power represents the change in wear & tear.

The Global Warming Risks of WILD FIRES, destroyed homes, livestock and food crops Requires that you Raise the GAS TAX, and get these gas vehicles OFF the Road ASAP.

You’re going to either pay a gas tax, or an Incompetent Tax in the economic costs of ignoring global warming.

The global warming costs are going to be catastrophic, unpredictable and unprecedented like this years Hurricane season.

Actually, PA’s gas tax is still higher than CA’s.

The red state allergy to raising revenue bites the ICE lobby in the behind. If they want to tax EVs, they have to jump through the same hoops as any other tax increase.

Though I will say the idea that EVs cause special road damage is a crock. A loaded Leaf or Bolt weighs less than 4000 lbs, compared with over 6000 lbs for a full-size pickup. Even a Model S weighs under 5000 lbs.

Also it’s not true to say that EV fuel is untaxed. If you charge at home, your electric bill has plenty of tax added; it’s just not directed to roads. Maybe rather than coming up with special EV taxes, state legislatures could redirect some of their electric utility taxes to road use.

That needs to be emphasized.

@James +100

I’m always amazed how state taxes on electricity are excluded from the “pay their fair share” discussions.

Ask any engineer, everything (except trucks) are doing 0 damage on roads. We build roads according to heavy duty 18 wheelers, so roads where only 4000lbs vehicules pass would last a lifetime.

Absolutely correct!

I wish people could get two things through their skulls:

(a) That vehicles, from bicycles to Hummers do not cause significant actual road damage. The real damage is from high per-axle weight vehicles (think transportation/delivery trucks, buses maybe) which cause deformation and ultimate breakdown of the road’s under layer and then surface.

(c) It’s not just about road repairs!
It’s about funding (preferably on a usage basis) total infrastructure.
Think bridge refurbishment/replacement, road widening, highway access improvements . . . and on and on.

A usage fee on a per-mile-driven basis for all light duty vehicles irrespective of fuel is probably the right way to do this. (Heavy vehicles – separate issue).

A fixed EV-only fee is just ignorant and reactionary!

The effects of weather and the cost of building new roads and widening existing roads are by far a larger contributor to the cost of roads than the damage of passenger vehicles. The problem is that even EV owners need to pay some share towards those two costs. Because everybody has to pay for weathering and for road expansion. But how much becomes the issue. And there are a couple of major factors that really matter: 1) Most states and feds have failed for decades to increase highway taxes (gas taxes) on gas cars to keep up with inflation and rising costs. So any attempt to make EV owners pay their fair share, without also increasing gas taxes so ICE car owners once again pay their fair share also is unequal treatment under the law. EV owners shouldn’t prop up decades of legislators failing to index highway taxes to costs, and be the only ones paying their fair share. Highway taxes need to go up at the same time. 2) EV owners already pay taxes on their “fuel” in the form of taxes already in their electricity bill, or sales taxes to buy solar and property taxes on the value… Read more »

Francois said “roads where only 4000lbs vehicules pass would last a lifetime.”

This is completely untrue. While it is true that heavy trucks do more damage to roads than passenger cars, the road would not last “a lifetime” if you banned heavy trucks. Especially flexible pavements like asphalt, which is used for most of the land miles in America. Even without heavy trucks the road would still degrade over time and need regular maintenance and resurfacing. This costs money, therefore IMO all users of the road should contribute to its maintenance.

Lane miles, not land miles. Darn auto correct!

“Our roads and bridges are taking a beating from these heavier vehicles…” Comparing the Gen2 Volt to the similar Cruze there is about 200# difference. The BoltEV is only slightly heavier then the Volt. And virtually ANY gasoline powered SUV is much heavier still. There is certainly a need for states to fund highway maintenance costs. However, when Big Oil is subsidized so heavily perhaps a bit more reality at the pumps is in order BEFORE they try to tax us all into abandoning the future of transportation.

EV’s are “heavier vehicles?” Where did you get that from?

It’s easily shown that BEVs are heavier than comparable gasmobiles. BEV battery packs are heavy!

But as Fran said, the difference on average is only a few hundred pounds. That’s trivial compared to the weight of a loaded heavy freight truck.

As a Leaf driver I have no problem paying for road maintenance. Just do it through the legislative process. We all want smooth clean safe roads and they aren’t free. In my county Polk County Florida it costs $19 million dollars per mile for a new 2 lane road.

$19 Million??? That is a Lot of Coffee, Diesel, Rubber, and Hydraulic Hose Replacements – Per Mile!

In 1970, My Parents sold an 80,000 Yard Gravel Contract for some 26 Miles of Road Re-Paving, and at that time – the quote to the Province, was just $1 Million Per Mile. Both The Crusher Plant and the Bitulithic Plant (Asphalt Coating Process) were performed for the Paving Job – right there on our Farm!

Accounting for Inflation – based on my wages in a similar industry, let’s call it 4.5 – 5 Million $ today! So – at $19 Million – you are getting overcharged, by about 400%!

$1 million in 1970 dollars is $6.5 million now. That is by CPI, but real inflation is likely higher.
https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1&year1=197001&year2=201709

Then you need to prepare road before being able to (re)pave, move ground, maybe build some bridges.

The environmental regulations were far less costly in 1970, which is part of why your parents were “allowed” to do that on their farm! The cost of additional government regs and oversight has driven things like road construction to increase in price at several times the rate of inflation.

The fuel tax is doing a poor job of allocating road costs to cars. Rather than stick on an arbitrary amount per car the whole thing should be changed to a cost per mile driven, indexed by weight.

The fact that you may sometimes drive in a different state is balanced by visitors from other states using your roads.

Exactly. Of course EV’s (I’m on my third) should pay their fair share. The immediate solution for them isn’t to pick numbers ($100, $200) out of thin air, like some collective punishment, but to separately meter the juice going into the car and pay a tax on that. Then you really are paying based on usage. However, people would maximize their tax-free L1 charging, which would then lead to the ultimate solution:

The ultimate solution is much bigger. In order to avoid the highway trust fund death spiral we’re in now, due to increasing mileage standards, we need to convert the whole system to a VMT system, where you tax the miles driven, measured by any number of tamper-proof means. That would apply to EV’s, plug-in hybrids, ICE, across the board. Drive more, pay more, drive less, pay less. It really would be the fairest system.

Are we capable of that? Don’t hold your breath.

It’s already a felony to tamper with a car’s odometer. The solution is already there, it just needs to be implemented.

It would be dead easy in any State which requires a yearly vehicle inspection. Just add an odometer reading to the form that the auto servicing shop fills out. The biggest expense would be the additional data entry involved, and it’s only one extra field.

Right? Vehicle weight * pollution factor * weight factor = yearly fee, charged at annual inspection, with an option to spread out the estimate over the year. It doesn’t need to be complicated.

Most cars record their MPG so if you trust those you could add an option to substitute in your car’s MPG reading for the year for the official one in the pollution factor.

Agreed.

Gas taxes should be eliminated, and replaced with:

Annual tax = weight x miles driven

This way, all vehicles pay their fair share.

A per mile tax is the fairest system. It is fuel agnostic.

Here we go again. Federal gas taxes? No one wants them higher. State gas taxes? No one wants them higher even when a 5 cent each increase would cost an average citizen $40 a year, the price of a meal for two in an US restaurant. Yet we want roads and highways to be well designed and in good repair. This argument goes 51 times around each state plus D.C. So Joe 1 drives 12,000 and Joe 2 drives 5,000 miles a year. Joe 1 pays more in tax tax. Is that fair? Should there be a minimum? Should the annual tag tax include a fuel tax like $30.00 so everyone shares the same? EV’s should pay but needs to comparable to average Joe’s 12,000 @25 mpg or 480 gallons State/federal taxes. What is that in your state? For sure not $208 in Georgia! Non EV owners pay about half! Obviously this is an anti EV crusade. California has 50% of the nation’s EV’s and its fee is $100!

And Exactly Why should a person Driving an EV, pay as Much as a Person Driving an ICE, when in Richest Neighborhoods in cities, they WANT the Roads Rough, and un-serviced, to keep people out, so the “looky Loo’s” drive there LESS!

Actually – (got a bit sidelined there!) – you are saying if a person drives More than you, you should pay as much tax as them?

Why is that? I am a guy that drives just about 10 Km’s per Week in a Commute, in what I could, should, and many times have – Walked; But you seem to be saying I should pay for all the road damage I do, driving on the roads that I uses 2-4 times a year, going on Vacation, when my fellow Coworker chooses to buy a house 50 miles away, and drive a 100 miles a day, each day over 200 times a year?!

You need to get out more, and put your name out their with that pitch, as a Politician, and see if that gets you elected!

Okay, two things:

1. As at least one comment (probably more) has already noted, the vehicles doing the vast majority of damage to roads are like heavy trucks. Blaming EVs for road damage because they’re a bit heavier than normal cars is like blaming the neighborhood kid (who’s 20 lbs heavier than your own kid) for breaking the porch swing, and ignoring the fact that your 350-lb uncle was using the swing every week when he came over.

2. ROTFL!
😀 😀 😀

It’s great to see the far right wingnut politicians in charge of Oklahoma** hoist on their own obstructionist petard. They’ve made it so difficult to pass any new taxes that they’ve stymied their own efforts to tax EVs!

From Wikipedia:

As of the November 2012 elections, Republicans have a supermajority in both the Oklahoma Senate and Oklahoma House of Representatives, hold all statewide offices, and all Congressional seats in both the House and Senate.

**Altho I doubt it’s as bad in Oklahoma as in in my own State of Kansas, where we’re saddled with Governor Brownback, who apparently wants all Kansas kids to grow up as not merely science deniers, but illiterate.

EVs are so cheap to use in large part because they don’t pay their fair share of the roads cost, they let the rest of the society pay for it. Don’t let me wrong, ICE also don’t pay there full part, especially in the US with so few taxes on gaz, but at least they pay a part.

The taxes on gaz isn’t a perfect system, but generally the more you use the more you pay. We will need a way to taxes the EVs, otherwise I don’t see why everyone would pay for only those using the roads.

EV’s are typically twice the cost of an equivalent sized ICE car. So the state gets double the sales tax revenue.

No freeloading going on here.

All this makes me want to build a diesel motorcycle that gets 200 mpg and burn heating oil in it or WVO. LOL

This is great news from Oklahoma that state that gave America Pruitt the worst possible EPA Director. I think Pruitts goal is to dismantle the EPA.

True, but he proud during his confirmation to observe OK was ~17% powered by wind. In 2016, it crossed above 25% (EIA). So, we have Jim Inhofe’s state doing embarrassingly sustainable things these days 🙂

Oklahoma 25% wind not bad but I think Oklahoma is winder than Iowa and Iowa will be 97% wind in about 3 years. MidAmerica Electric is going all in.Currently Iowa is over 45%

Federal taxes on gasoline haven’t been raised in over 20 years, the health cost related to burning these fossil fuels alone should be reason enough to increase Federal Taxes motor fuels especially now when motor fuels are cgeap

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

No matter how you charge for any taxes whether it’s legit or not, the crooked dirty politicians WILL earmark the fund$ for something other than it’s intended use.

Amen.

I agree with others who’ve said everyone should pay their fair share, based on miles driven and vehicle weight.

The obvious, easy way to do this is during annual vehicle registration, by collecting the current odometer reading and taking the difference to the previous registration. The vehicle weight is known. To prevent fraud, odometer readings can be easily audited whenever the vehicle is inspected–NJ does this already. I am assuming that every state requires periodic inspections?

Road tax should be based on two criteria: vehicle weight and miles driven per year; the latter determined at yearly inspections.

Basing it on weight and miles driven means a vehicle that gets 10 mpg would pay the same as one that gets 100 mpg. Ridiculous

Fuel economy has no correlation to road damage.

The reward for driving a 100 mpge vehicle is in lower cost of ownership, not road taxes.

And just to point out something fairly obvious, the fee may not go up linearly with the weight of the vehicle. A car that has no weight still takes up room on the road so it should pay something. The damage caused by very heavy vehicles probably goes up faster than linearly. It would take some research to say exactly how much should be paid, but in any case politics needs to be kept out of it.

Under these EV fee based systems, do PHEV’s get double taxed or are the exempt from the fee?

Here in NY we have Parkways that trucks larger than a pickup can not use. I often see crews working on these Parkways so I imagine there is some wear and tear taking place from regular passenger vehicles.