Published on December 6, 2013

SEMA urges opposition to Mass. highway tax bill

BOSTON (Dec. 6, 2013) — The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is urging its Massachusetts members to contact representatives on the Massachusetts Joint Transportation Committee in opposition to H.B. 3142, a bill setting up a pilot program to tax vehicles per miles traveled.

H.B. 3142 directs the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to develop, implement and oversee one or more pilot programs, including at least 1,000 volunteers across the state including truck drivers, commercial vehicle drivers and passenger car drivers.

The volunteers would have onboard vehicle mileage counters added to their vehicles, and the agency would collect tax payments from the participants. The pilot program, according to the bill, would test the reliability, cost, ease of use and public acceptance of the mileage counters.

The diminishing value of the motor vehicle fuel tax, declining supplies of conventional fuels and increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles make it imperative for the state to find alternative highway funding mechanisms, according to the bill’s language.

“The commonwealth is uniquely positioned to become a leader in the advancement of the technology and methods needed to develop and implement alternative ways to raise transportation revenue,” the bill said.

Because deferred implementation of the bill would defeat its purpose, the bill’s authors urged that it be declared an emergency law.

Just as urgently, SEMA told its members to oppose H.B. 3142.

“H.B. 3142 seeks to penalize national efforts to create a more fuel-efficient vehicle fleet,” SEMA said. “As gas tax revenues decrease due to hybrid and electric vehicle ownership, states are looking for new sources of funding for pet projects.”

The SEMA Action Network sent names, phone numbers and email addresses for every member of the joint committee. It also requested that a copy of each letter sent to the committee also be sent to Steve McDonald at stevem@sema.org.

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