House Bill 37 is a terrible idea that should never pass.
That bill, which is currently under consideration in the Wyoming Legislature, would levy fees on Wyoming drivers through a road usage charge.
At first glance the reasoning behind the bill appears sound. The Wyoming Department of Transportation is in dire need of additional funding.
People that use Wyoming roads would pay the usage charge. People that don’t drive would not have to pay the tax.
At first blush, the tax sounds fair. However, it is in the implementation of the tax that things get sticky.
If every Wyoming vehicle’s mileage was recorded every year, how would out-of-state travel and off-road travel be deducted from the overall total?
Tourists also use Wyoming roads. Would it be fair to Wyoming residents to not charge tourists for using our roads?
How would the mileage be recorded? Several options being mentioned include putting a GPS or similar tracking device in every vehicle or having each user send in a yearly photo of their odometer. What if you trade cars in the middle of the year?
Those suggestions are extremely unlikely to be palatable to Wyoming residents.
HB 37 probably doesn’t have much of a chance of passing.
Even Sandy Newsome (R-Cody) who voted to move the bill out of committee as a “way to start a conversation,” said she would probably not vote to pass the bill in its current form.
House Bill 26, a separate bill under consideration in the house, would increase the current fuel tax by nine cents per gallon.
If new road taxes are needed, that in our opinion is a much more reasonable and fair way to increase revenue.
WYDOT is facing a $354 million annual budget deficit. Wyoming state government and WYDOT both need additional revenue.
However, House Bill 37 needs to go down in flames.