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Oregon Pilots Mileage-Based User Fee

Posted By John Hausladen, Thursday, August 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013

This Time It’s Not California – While we often look to California for ideas that push the boundaries, this month Oregon gets the title. Mileage-based User Fee (MBUF) have been successful in advancing the concept through a "user choice” pilot study. Trust me folks, this is not the camel’s nose under the tent. This is the nose, the head and most of the neck. We need to keep a careful eye on these developments.

My counterpart in Oregon, Debra Dunn, provided this update to her members. They have been also battling this idea, but to no avail. I thought I would share it with you.

MBUF Gaining Momentum in Oregon- With the passage of Senate Bill 810, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will soon have the ability to assess a charge of 1.5 cents per mile for up to 5,000 cars and light commercial vehicles and issue an equivalent gas tax refund to those who volunteer for the new fuel tax alternative. Governor Kitzhaber (D) is expected to sign the bill into law and the system is required to be operational by July 2015.

Vehicle owners must apply to participate in the program. Once accepted, they will use an approved metering technology that will track mileage. ODOT will need to oversee the administration of the program, including developing the methods to record and report on the number of miles enrolled vehicles travel on highways.

ODOT must also determine the accuracy of the data collected, privacy options for persons liable for the per-mile road usage charge, the security of the technology, the resistance of the technology to tampering, the ability to audit compliance, and "other relevant factors that the department deems important."

In addition, ODOT will need to find at least one method of collecting and reporting the number of miles traveled by a subject vehicle that does not use vehicle location technology and adopting standards for open system technologies.

The Salem Statesman Journal reported that "implementing the voluntary program would cost an estimated $2.8 million in the 2013-15 biennium, which will be used to fund staffers, according to the bill's fiscal note. Revenue from the program is expected to be minimal."

Meanwhile, Back in Minnesota- Governor Dayton has sent his very likeable new Commissioner of Transportation Charlie Zelle on the road to build support for increased transportation funding. Given the Governor’s desire for a "bold” plan, I would be surprised if a similar MBUF pilot wasn’t part of the plan.

It is too early to make predictions regarding the 2014 legislature’s desire to take on transportation funding. House members will be up for election, making raising any new taxes a low priority, especially in light of the 2013 tax increases.

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