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Nick Howe, the Vice President of our club, Florida Tesla Enthusiasts, was interviewed by Robbie Gaffney, a Multimedia Reporter with WFSU Public Radio, the local NPR member station of Tallahassee.
Grant Program Proposal To Fund Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Advances In Florida Senate
(The web article also includes audio excerpts of comments by Nick, Senator Brandes, and Senator Berman.)
From the article:
"We're certainly, myself and the club, are in support of license fees for [electric vehicles]," Nick Howe, Vice President of the club Florida Tesla Enthusiasts, says. "We want to make sure that we pay our fair share. We're certainly not looking for any kind of free ride."
But Howe says the fixed fees aren'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," Howe says.
Howe says a better solution is to charge people based on their usage. It's something Sen. Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach) posed 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?"
The interview with Nick was in preparation for the article linked above, which covers the Florida Senate Transportation Committee. The meeting was convened to discuss two bills sponsored by Senator Brandes related to electric vehicles. Both bills were approved by the Committee.
Senate Bill 138 proposes requiring FDOT to establish the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Grant Program to provide financial assistance to encourage the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The Program provides grants to State agencies, public universities, public transit agencies, ports, airports, and local governments, including local housing authorities and libraries.
Senate Bill 140 proposes a new electric vehicle (EV) Registration flat fee of $135 in addition to standard vehicle registration fees. If approved, the fee would take effect July 1, 2021. For plug-in hybrids, the fee would be $50. The revenue collected from the registration fees will go to funding the EV Infrastructure Grant Program.
Both bills must be enacted for either of them to take effect, and sunset at the end of 2030 to permit the legislature to reexamine the situation.
Nick's comments and our club were also featured in a Charged Magazine article by the magazine's Senior Editor, Charles Morris.
Florida legislature proposes a yearly tax on EV owners—again
Our Club's Position
We applaud Senator Brandes for his continuing innovative approaches to promoting Electric and Autonomous vehicles. However, we prefer an EV Registration fee amount more in line with what an equivalently efficient gas car would pay.
We appreciate that registration fees are a simple, stop-gap measure, and we support reasonable fees in the short-term. However, an unavoidable and critical concern is figuring out how to implement an equitable, long-term, mileage-based road usage tax that would treat all vehicles, regardless of their energy source, the same.
We are not alone in this view. Senator Brandes expressed a similar perspective earlier in an interview with Florida Politics.
“The tax structure in Florida has got to change to deal with electrification,” Brandes said.
"As more and more cars switch from fossil fuels to all-electric, Florida’s current gas tax system that funds much of the state’s road maintenance will become depleted. Instead, Brandes said the state should begin considering how to tap into other user fees. That would likely come by way of charging taxes not on gasoline, but on actual vehicle miles driven."
This, admittedly, is a complicated issue. Therefore, we believe now is the time for the state to fund a pilot study to be ready when electric vehicles inevitably comprise a significant percentage of the Florida driving public.
We will continue to track the progress of these bills through the Senate and the identical companion bills in the House.
We will be speaking out more on this issue, and we will be asking for your support to Advocate for EVs. Stay tuned.
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