The latest draft of a seismic and sprawling transportation bill forewarns fees on deliveries and shared rides, a per-gallon road use fee and inflation-driven increases.
The 190-page piece of legislation is the road map to how Coloradans will pay for transportation in the future, specifically electrified vehicles and charging stations, mass transit and spreading the cost between electric and combustion vehicles.
The bill is expected to be introduced in the coming days. Colorado Politics obtained a draft copy stamped Thursday.
The current language in the bill calls for:
- A road usage fee that would ratchet up annually over 10 years to maximum of 8 cents.
- 3.5 cents per prearranged ride in a zero-emission vehicle and 7.5 cents for every other vehicle.
- 6.9 cents for retail deliveries
- 5.3 cents for each delivery to support a fund to transition government fleets to electric vehicles.
- Raising the $50 registration fee for electric vehicles with an index that makes EVs equitable to what combustion vehicles pay.
- Indexing the current $2 fee per day on vehicle rentals to inflation, exempting car-sharing programs.
- Changing the Statewide Bridge Enterprise to the Statewide Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise, and authorizing its board to impose a fee on diesel and deliveries.
Inflation would be built into each new fund, to ensure the system doesn't fall behind again. Currently, roads and bridges depend on a 22-cent-per-gallon gas tax that hasn't gone up in almost 30 years.
Besides fleet vehicles, cuts of the money would support building charging stations.
The bill states: “One of the best ways to incentivize, support and accelerate the adoption of electric motor vehicles in both urban and rural areas is to reduce range anxiety and inconvenience for electric motor vehicle users by building readily available, robust, easy to use and efficient electric motor vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure in communities and along major highway corridors throughout the state.”
The state's Democratic legislative leaders remained vague on Monday afternoon in a video conference with local elected officials about how to raise billions of dollars for transportation. They were nonetheless steadfast that the fix must happen this year.
Colorado clean air advocates reacted positively to President Joe Biden's plan to return authority to the states to regulate emissions from cars and passenger trucks that was finalized Monday.
Joey Bunch: "What if taxpayers up and down the Front Range won’t help pay for commuter rail, the way they haven't been willing to pony up for highways?"
The Colorado Politics team offers context and analysis to the State of the State address by Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021
Build it and people will use it. That's the argument of those who want the state legislature to invest in alternatives instead of asphalt and new lanes.
If they can’t make it here, they can’t make it anywhere.
Amtrak, the quasi-public national rail corporation, identified a new passenger rail line from Cheyenne to Pueblo in its 15-year plan to add more than 30 new routes and serve up to 160 new communities, depending on federal funding.
Sandra Hagen Solin, who represents the transportation advocacy coalition Fix Colorado Roads, said she was processing the lengthy bill.
”It's 190 pages of transportation funding and spending complexity that seeks to dramatically change the transportation landscape," she said Thursday night. "We’re diving into the details hopeful to find a plan that’s balanced, equitable and invests well in our state and local road system— the backbone of our economy.”
The bill creates three separate enterprises — basically, state-run businesses — each with its own appointed government board to collect and dole out the money. Each enterprise is expected to handle less than $100 million in its first five years, which means they don't have to be approved by voters, as required by last year's Proposition 117.
The legislation also supports projects that reduce traffic, such as incentivizing people not to commute alone, or retrofitting construction equipment.
The legislation has plenty of legislative firepower behind it, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg of Boulder, Senate Transportation Committee chair Faith Winter of Westminster and Republican Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson, with Democratic Rep. Matt Gray of Broomfield and House Speaker Alec Garnett of Denver.
"From the looks of things, we may be on the verge of a major breakthrough," said Mike Kopp, chairman of A Way Forward, a business coalition pushing the legislature to invest in transportation. "It is not possible to write a bill on this subject that everybody fully agrees with, but the road traffic we feel today, as well as the bad road conditions, are the outgrowth of the fact that a bill like this did not pass 10 years ago.
"There's a lot of fine print to examine, which the AWF coalition will do before arriving at a final conclusion shortly, but a great deal of the framework that we have asked for has been represented in the bill, and for taking a broad and inclusive view, the sponsors deserve real credit."
Kopp is a former Republican state senator who is the president and CEO of Colorado Concern, an organization of the state's leading business executives.
The Colorado Contractors Association also is pleased to see the potential for investments.
"This draft represents a significant move to invest in high priority infrastructure projects at the state and local level immediately and modernize our transportation funding system into the future," said executive director Tony Milo.