Senate Bill No. 630
(By Senators Plymale, McCabe, Browning, Kessler (Mr. President), Unger, Miller, Tucker and Stollings)
[Introduced February 17, 2012; referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and then to the Committee on Government Organization.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §17-2A-8d, relating to directing the Commissioner of Highways to conduct a study on alternative revenue mechanisms for development and maintenance of state roads and highways; making legislative findings and specifying intent; specifying study design; authorizing pilot projects and interagency cooperation; and requiring report and recommendations by certain date.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §17-2A-8d, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2A. ROAD DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTENANCE FEE.
§17-2A-8d. Study of alternative revenue sources to fund state roads and highways; findings and intent; report; recommendations.
(a) The Legislature finds as follows:
(1) An efficient and effective transportation system is critical for West Virginia's economy and quality of life;
(2) Continued efficiency and effectiveness depend on a stable and reliable source of revenue to fund the system's maintenance, operation, preservation and improvements;
(3) The motor vehicle fuel tax has been a fundamental means of paying for state and federal roads. Until recently, these taxes have been an adequate and stable source of revenue;
(4) Since 1980, with gradual gains in average vehicle fuel economy, vehicle miles traveled has doubled while fuel consumption itself has increased by just half. Long-range projections for fuel consumption and vehicle miles traveled from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) suggest that this trend will continue;
(5) Changing conditions in the fuel market since the year 2000 have driven changes in consumers' tastes in the vehicle market, with a shift toward vehicles with superior fuel economy and vehicles that rely on alternative fuels;
(6) Because the average individual vehicle miles traveled is expected to grow faster than fuel consumption in the coming decades, alternative funding mechanisms based on alternative funding sources, such as vehicle miles traveled, for roads and highways should provide a more stable source of revenue;
(7) According to EIA projections, federal fuel tax revenue, assuming current per-gallon rates, should increase by about ten percent between 2015 and 2030, growing from $36 billion to $39 billion (2009 dollars).
(8) If, instead, fuel taxes were replaced with an alternative funding source, such as fees based on vehicle miles traveled, in 2015 at an initially revenue-neutral rate, receipts should increase by thirty-three percent over the same period, growing from $36 billion to $47 billion; and
(9) Other states and the federal government face the same difficulty of stagnating fuel tax revenues. A number of other states have embarked on pilot projects and other efforts over the last decade to evaluate potential new systems for the assessment and collection of taxes or fees for the use of a transportation system. Such efforts have shown that new systems to assess a fee based on usage of state and local roads are indeed technologically feasible today.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to establish the governance structure and groundwork needed to adopt an alternative source of revenue collection for road development and maintenance that will supplement the current system of motor vehicle fuel taxation. To this end, this section provides for a study, conducted by the Commissioner of Highways, to guide the first stages of the transition, focusing on determining the feasibility and optimal methods of implementation for a road user assessment.
(c) The study created under subsection (b) of this section shall:
(1) Research and review relevant reports, data, and efforts in other states and at the federal level with regard to models of assessment and methods of transitioning to an alternative system of paying for West Virginia roads and highways and analyze the research to identify issues for policy decisions in West Virginia;
(2) Make recommendations on the design for a pilot project or projects. The recommendations must be submitted to the Legislature by November 1, 2013; and
(3) In arriving at its recommendations:
(A) Determine and apply criteria for identifying the most promising road usage fee collection implementation options to evaluate in a pilot project;
(B) Identify uncertainties that would need to be resolved in order to develop a technically feasible and cost-effective system of road use fee collection; and
(C) Propose legislation that would enable the conduct of pilot program or programs.
(d) In order to assist the Commissioner of Highways in making recommendations, the department may participate in studies and limited pilot projects to test technical feasibility that can be accomplished within existing resources.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to direct the Commissioner of Highways to conduct a study on alternative revenue mechanisms for development and maintenance of state roads and highways.
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.