Oregon's House Transportation Committee has passed House Bill 3344, which would replace the weight-distance tax with a 25-cent diesel tax and increase truck registration fees by as much as 11 times. Oregon currently has no tax on truck diesel fuel.
The bill now is in the hands of the Revenue Committee. Gordon Oliver, the Oregonian reporter covering the issue, says house members on the transportation committee were noncommittal as to whether they would support the bill on the House floor. "There's still lots of room for debate and politics," he says.
Robert Russell, vice president of McCracken Motor Freight of Portland, is working with the Oregon Trucking Assn. to kill the tax, one of only five in the country. Russell was a staunch supporter of the law when he was on the state Public Utility Commission and in charge of the tax program. But he's changed his tune. He told the Transportation Committee last week, "Oregon, unfortunately, is simply out of step with the rest of North America," reports The Oregonian.
A retired director of the Nevada Department of Transportation told the committee that in Nevada, which dropped its weight-mile tax 10 years ago, motorists subsidize the truckers in the state.