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Tim Burke: Forcing residents to report annual mileage sounds rather Orwellian

A bill that became effective October 1st that should concern all residents that own a vehicle in Nevada is AB483. The bill has been labeled as necessary to gather information for “future” road projects in Nevada.

But a closer examination of the bill text shows that it is actually a precursor to adding new taxes.

The bill as passed states this: “Sec.2.1. The Legislature hereby finds and declares that:

■ (a) The state faces major financial challenges to adequately fund the construction and maintenance of the highways of this state as revenues from taxes imposed on fuel, at both the state and federal level, long used to fund construction and maintenance of the highways of this state and many other states, have declined primarily because of the improved efficiency of the motor vehicles operated on the highways of this state.

■ (b) The Legislature must seek significant and innovative solutions in order to meet the challenges of adequately funding the construction and maintenance of the highways of this state into the future, among them the concept of basing revenue collection on the annual vehicle miles traveled by each vehicle using the highways of this state. 2. The Legislature therefore directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct a pilot program to gather data on annual vehicle miles traveled and other relevant information for certain motor vehicles registered in this state.”

Virtually every type of vehicle regardless of size or type of fuel is required to report annually. There are a few exceptions: any vehicle not required to register, farm vehicles, and motorcycles.

The Nevada DMV has been tasked to fulfill the requirements of this new law. It will do so by implementing a program that requires you to report your vehicle’s mileage when you renew your annual registration.

There is a section on the Nevada DMV’s website that is dedicated to explaining the requirement to vehicle owners that says: “Odometer Readings Required! We will use the reading from your smog check if you had a test completed. If not, have your current mileage ready. Motorcycles and mopeds are exempt. The Nevada DMV is required to collect mileage data to help legislators plan for future road construction. It’s the law!”

The website goes on to say: “There are no fees, taxes or fines associated with this program. The pilot project runs through Dec. 31, 2026.”

There is no mention on the DMV’s website of the bill’s actual language referencing the section that says: “…seek significant and innovative solutions in order to meet the challenges of adequately funding the construction and maintenance of the highways…”. Its also clearly stated on the DMV website that if you don’t report your mileage you will not be able to register your vehicle.

It doesn’t take a significant amount of deductive reasoning to see that the Legislature is looking to tax vehicle owners on how many miles they drive annually.

Assemblyman Greg Hafen II, R-Pahrump, voted against the bill’s passage and states: “It’s just another way to raise taxes and I am opposed to it. There needs to be more discussion on how to fund our roads without taxing vehicle owners. Rural residents could be impacted the most because they often drive longer distances than urban residents to get to needed services.”

The assemblyman did also state a way needs to be found for electric vehicles to pay a fair portion of road costs. Currently, conventional vehicles pay a tax on every gallon of fuel they buy that goes to road improvements and maintenance.

Electric vehicles use the same roads but are not paying any fuel taxes, so they are not currently helping fund those road costs. As more vehicles including over the road trucks switch to electricity the money available from fuel taxes for roads would not keep pace with current levels.

In a state that is visited annually by thousands of snowbirds, tourists, conventioneers, and other frequent visitors why should residents with vehicles pay an additional tax on mileage not tied to the fuel tax? And if a visitor drives an electric vehicle to Nevada, they will not pay anything to use our roads because they aren’t paying the fuel tax.

A solution needs to be found for that but asking, no make that forcing, residents to report their annual mileage sounds rather Orwellian.

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Nye County resident.

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