A new Oregon law that eliminates the weight-distance tax in favor of a diesel tax and raises the state's gas tax is on hold.
The measure was supposed to go into effect Oct. 23, but opponents of the 5-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax hike say they have gathered enough signatures to keep the increase from taking effect as scheduled. Instead, the plan will be put to a vote next May.
The Oregon/Idaho American Automobile Assn. said Monday it has gathered about 54,000 signatures, well over the 45,000 required to refer a legislative measure to the ballot.
The Auto Club says it could support a gas tax hike to expand and repair Oregon's road system, it opposes this bill because it changes the way trucks are taxed.
Truckers say the weight-mile tax is costly and cumbersome to administer, but the AAA says basing truck taxes on weight and travel is the best way to compensate for trucks' wear on the road system.
Pat McCormick, spokesman for a coalition of business and government interests that support the gas tax, predicts a very high-profile, expensive campaign. He said the thrust of the campaign will be that Oregon's gas tax, which now stands at 24 cents a gallon, hasn't been raised since 1991, and that in that time the state's roads have become increasingly worn and congested.