LeeTrans Opposes Texas House Bill 3418
Lee Trans’ President Jackie Polk was asked by Texas Trucking Association’s (TXTA) President John Esparza to testify before the Texas House Transportation Committee last week in regards to House Bill 3418. The bill proposes an implementation for Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) to initiate a vehicle mileage user fee pilot program and creation of a task force to assist in developing and evaluating the program.
Mrs. Polk joined Nate Graglia (Wallport Transit Xpress), Kate Gillis Buecker (Gulf Intermodal Services), Jonathan Kennemer (CKJ Transport), Jerry Maldonado (Warren Transport and Laredo Motor Carriers Association), John Prewitt (Tideport Distributing), Konor Swedberg (Double Diamond Transport), John Willis (Texas Moving Company) and Brandon Woods (Refrigerated Transport Inc.) in speaking against the bill. All are TXTA members dedicated to sharing their expertise and experience in the trucking industry in the State of Texas.
According to TXTA: “As the unified voice of Texas trucking, TXTA is a legislative advocate for our members and the transportation industry. We support pro-business and pro-trucking policies at the local, state and national levels. TXTA staff has decades of experience working in the legislative and regulatory fields, the executive branch of government, and grassroots and political campaigns. The combined experience ensures TXTA’s membership has knowledgeable and well-experienced staff advocating on their behalf.”
Following the testimony the bill was left open.
What to Expect
The purpose of the bill is to evaluate if a state gasoline and diesel tax would be feasible both for Texas motor carriers, as well as out-of-state commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The proposed pilot program is to include no more than 300 CMVs, with onboard vehicle mileage counting equipment and last no less than one year. The program will test the reliability, ease of use, cost and public acceptance of the technology and reporting methods.
Additionally, it shall analyze and evaluate the ability of different technologies and methods to protect the integrity of the data collected, ensure operators’ privacy and vary pricing based on the time of driving, type of public highway, proximity to transit, vehicle fuel efficiency, participation in car-sharing or pooling or the income of the operator. A full report of the findings would be due no later than September 1, 2026 summarizing the evaluation and the department’s recommendations.
The bill is sponsored by Representative Terry Canales, of District 40, who also acts as the Transportation Committee Chair. He is joined by Rep. John Raney, Rep. Trent Ashby, Rep Yvonne Davis, Rep. Erin Elizabeth Gamez, Rep. Caroline Harris, Rep. Brooks Landgraf, Rep. J. M. Lozano, Rep. John Lujan, Rep. Claudia Ordaz, Rep. Jared Patterson, Rep. Mary Ann Perez and Rep. Ramon Romero.
The bill is in response to rising costs for infrastructure needs and expected loss of revenue with CMVs utilizing alternative fuel sources or electric vehicles (EVs) that would no longer pay taxes at a traditional fuel pump. The State is experiencing a $32.7 billion surplus budget; with $10 billion earmarked for highway funds and the state’s rainy day fund. According to an article by the Texas Tribune, state revenue depends largely on sales taxes, with sizeable revenues from oil and gas severance taxes, motor vehicle fuel and sales taxes and franchise taxes collected on alcohol.
With companies like Volvo introducing electric CMVs and Class 8 vehicles like the VNR, eCascadia and eM2, and reports of EV sales doubling between 202-2021, there is a likely progression to more CMVs moving to alternate fuel resources. Programs such as the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) ensure that collection of taxes at the pump are dispersed to the appropriate states, but CMVs not paying fuel tax will still contribute the same weight damage to roadways as traditional CMVs.
Lee Trans’ Response
To listen to Mrs. Polk’s response, as well as the other testimonies, visit https://house.texas.gov/video-audio/committee-broadcasts/
Mrs. Polk will be appearing on the Road Dog News show today, April 4, 2023 at 2:30 PM CST, to further discuss TXTA and Lee Trans’ opposition to the bill, and further share her knowledge of IFTA and Highway Use Fee/Tax programs. You can listen live to the program on SiriusXM on Channel 146, or online https://www.siriusxm.com/channels/road-dog-trucking .
How to Respond
There are currently 464 house bills before the House Transportation Committee, and with Texas’ Legislation only holding sessions every two years over the course of 140 days, there isn’t much time to get bills vetted, open for public comment and submit for next steps. The 88th Legislature Regular Session is scheduled to wrap up on May 29th, 2023, which means motor carriers have less than 60 days to respond.
The Transportation Committee is scheduled to meet next on April 5th. The HB 3418 discussion is not on the docket according to the public meeting notice, but TXTA is urging its members to submit letters, calls, etc. to committee members before then in case a vote is brought to the floor. To issue a public comment, visit https://comments.house.texas.gov/home, or call any office of a House Transportation Committee member.
Why Lee Trans is Involved
Lee Trans represents our clients and partners here in Texas and nationwide, providing critical DOT Compliance services, as well as advocating on their behalf for legislative change. This bill directly impacts our clients not just in Texas, but for any carrier that operates in the state. With Texas touting the most people employed as truck drivers than any other state in the US, with or 1.2 billion tons of freight being moved annually. The State also has both the largest highway and interstate networks in the nation, and represents 12% of vehicle miles travelled in the entire US.
Lee Trans provides Fuel Tax Reporting services to motor carriers nationwide and ensures that compliance with IFTA and State Highway Use Taxes/Fees are met.
For more information on Lee Trans’ services, please visit https://www.leetrans.com/services/vehicle-compliance/fuel-tax/.