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Florida lawmakers seek study of EV impacts on infrastructure


TALLAHASSEE --- With concerns raised about a proposed annual registration fee on electric vehicles amounting to a “double tax,” House members want a study about impacts of the increased number of electric vehicles on Florida roads.

Bills filed in the House and Senate called for imposing a registration fee on electric vehicles to make up for lost gas-tax revenue, which is used for transportation projects.

But the House Transportation & Modals Subcommittee on Thursday scaled back the House bill (HB 107) to direct state economists to review the long-term infrastructure effects of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.

“It seems like a lot of us agree that we don't want to jump ahead when it comes to applying some sort of fee or tax to EV drivers without doing the research first,” Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said.

Under the revised bill, lawmakers would be expected in 2026 to consider potential changes to address the anticipated decline in gas-tax revenue as more electric and hybrid vehicles go on the road.

“We need a solution, because while we see the innovation coming into the transportation market, that doesn't mean that we don't need to continue to fund our infrastructure,” bill sponsor Tiffany Esposito, R-Fort Myers, said.

The revised version of the bill also would direct that an existing 4.35 percent tax imposed at charging stations go to road maintenance through the Transportation Trust Fund, which funds the Department of Transportation’s five-year work plan, rather than to state general revenue.

Esposito said the review, which would be conducted by the state Revenue Estimating Conference, also would consider federal policy changes and financial impacts of charging electric vehicles at private residences. A report would be due Sept. 1, 2025.

“Most of our EVs are being charged at home. And that is part of this debate,” Esposito said.

The House revision came a day after the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill (SB 28) that called for electric-vehicle owners to pay an annual registration fee of $200.

State economists have projected registration fees would generate $65 million a year, covering what is expected to be lost in gas taxes by 2030.

“That kind of recurring revenue deficit is devastating. If we have that kind of loss, the Port of Miami tunnel wouldn't have been built,” Esposito said. “We cannot continue to build and have world-class infrastructure if we cannot fund it.”

Senate bill sponsor Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, called his proposal an issue of “fairness" for everyone who uses the state’s road system. He said the fee structure would be based on figures from the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

The association projects motorists who drive 10,000 miles a year pay about $190 a year in federal, state and local gas taxes. For those who drive 12,000 miles a year, the combined taxes come to about $228 a year.

While the Senate Transportation Committee supported Hooper’s bill, concerns were raised by lawmakers and a Tesla lobbyist that the proposed fee could result in electric-vehicle owners being “double taxed” through the fee and taxes imposed at charging stations.

In backing the changes to Esposito’s bill, Tesla lobbyist Jeff Sharkey said the company is expected to pay $2.5 million to $3 million in taxes through its charging stations this year. “The amendment is really a fair and responsible way to move forward,” Sharkey said.

As of Dec. 31, 2022, Florida had 167,990 registered electric vehicles, up from 95,640 a year earlier. The Florida Department of Transportation’s 2021 EV Infrastructure Master Plan found the use of electric vehicles could result in a 5.6 percent to 20 percent drop in “motor-fuel based revenue streams” by 2040.

Because Esposito’s amendment substantially changed the bill, the House panel will have to reconsider the proposal at a future meeting, Chairwoman Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, said.