Electric vehicle owners will have to pay a $250 registration fee under a bill passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

New license plates may not be the only The Big Change for some drivers in Pennsylvania next year. The state House on Wednesday passed a bill that would require electric vehicle owners to pay a road apply fee instead of the gas tax other drivers pay.

Owners of electric vehicles would pay a $200 fee when they register or renew their registration next year. The fee would raise to $250 in 2026. Owners of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles would pay $50 next year and $63 in 2026, under the version Senate Bill No. 656 passed by the House in 190-12 vote.

The bill now heads back to the state Senate for lawmakers to approve in the House of Representatives. correction adjustments to the fees. If senators approve the change, it will go to Gov. Josh Shapiro for his signature.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Ed Nielson (D-Philadelphia) said during a floor debate on Wednesday that the Legislature has been working for years to figure out a way for electric vehicle users to pay their fair share of highway costs.

“Both sides support it,” Nielson said. “A lot of people call it a tax — a tax, which it is not. It’s a fee for using our roads, a fair and just fee.”

The electric vehicle fee bill passed the upper chamber more than a year ago with robust bipartisan support but faced opposition from Republicans on the House Transportation Committee because members said the maximum fee of $285 was too high.

That amount is roughly equivalent to the $285 in gas taxes drivers paid on average in 2021, according to the Independent Fiscal Office.

Pennsylvania relies on a liquid fuel tax to pay for highway and bridge maintenance, state police and other transportation costs. Shapiro’s 2024-25 budget proposal includes more than $1.7 billion in tax revenue from gasoline and diesel purchases.

Pennsylvania’s gasoline tax of 57.6 cents a gallon is the second-highest in the country – just a fraction of a cent lower than California’s, according to data U.S. Energy Information Administration.

And while Pennsylvania has an alternative fuel tax that covers electricity for electric vehicles, the state relies on users to report and remit any taxes they owe themselves. Last year, the state collected less than $778,000 in alternative fuel tax, which includes taxes paid on other forms of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen and compressed natural gas.

An analysis by the House Appropriations Committee shows that fees for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will generate more than $16 million next year.

Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre) noted that while he generally opposes novel consumer fees, the burden of highway maintenance and road safety falls largely on drivers of established fossil fuel vehicles while drivers of electric vehicles benefit.

“We all have a responsibility to fund these roads, fund our bridges and keep them safe,” Benninghoff said. “These vehicles carry a lot of weight and their impact is significant.”

But House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chairman Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) noted that the fee would be the second-highest in the country and could scare some consumers away from electric vehicles. Texas charges a fee of $400 the first year a novel electric vehicle is registered and $250.75 annually thereafter.

“We should encourage electric vehicles, not discourage them,” Vitali said, noting that many electric vehicle owners pay a premium for their vehicles because they want to do the right thing. “When it comes to the environment, they worry about climate change. They worry about air pollution. They worry about our dependence on foreign oil.”

Vitali was one of six Democrats who voted against the bill.

Democratic Rep. Joseph Hohenstein (D-Philadelphia) said while the bill is not a response to climate change, it does address an urgent issue for the state.

“It’s a fantastic bill that really moves things forward, but it also has a lot of elements that are postponing the problem, and we’re going to have to deal with those issues in the future, both in terms of our energy consumption and basic transportation funding. And that’s one part of it, but it’s not the end,” Hohenstein said.

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