During the 2019 Legislative Session, the North Dakota Senate surprised many of us when they killed a bill that proposed raising the Motor Fuel Tax. That proposal is in front of them again this session. Will we see a repeat?
The reason many of us were surprised in 2019 is because the Senate has a reputation for being far less conservative than the chamber across the hall— the House. Yet, the House passed House Bill 1464 last month by a wide margin of 62 – 32.
As currently amended, if passed, HB 1464 would raise the Motor Fuel Tax from $0.23/gallon to $0.26/gallon. The argument is that we’re way past due for an increase in this “fee”. What’s often lost in the discussion though is that North Dakota is among the leaders nationwide in taxes collected. In other words, we have plenty of resources. Should we really be raising taxes, even if it is a “fee”?
Last session, Senator Jordan Kannianen (R – District 4) rightfully pointed out in floor debate that even without raising the tax, North Dakota’s roads had improved over 10 years from 22% being rated poor or very poor to just 10% of them being rated as such.
What seems to have drawn the most opposition this time around though, in committee hearings, is the hike in fees related to electric vehicles that’s found in the bill. Advocates of “EV’s” expressed concern that the increases weren’t fair.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. It came out of committee yesterday with a 4-3 Do Not Pass and is now on the calendar for approval of amendments.
My bet is that, in spite of the committee’s recommendation, it will pass. There’s tremendous pressure to raise the Motor Fuel Tax. I hope that I’m wrong. It would be nice to see the Senate do the right thing— again.
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