Jan. 21--The Virginia Senate voted Monday to repeal the much-maligned tax on hybrid vehicles embedded in last year's landmark transportation funding bill.
The bipartisan vote was 35-3 on Senate Bill 127, which would repeal the annual $64 fee on the vehicles and refund fees paid in advance for the next year.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Monday that if the legislature passes a bill to repeal the hybrid car fee, he will sign it.
Repeal of the tax would reduce by roughly $11 million the revenue generated by the transportation funding package, which is projected to raise $1 billion a year for roads and mass transit.
It was originally included in the transportation plan as a way to offset gasoline tax revenue lost by the use of hybrid vehicles, which get better mileage.
Thousands signed petitions objecting to the tax, saying it unfairly targeted hybrid owners because a number of gas-only vehicles not subject to the tax get better mileage than many hybrids.
Sen. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, who has helped lead the repeal effort, called the hybrid fee "an illogical tax that doesn't make sense."
But Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, one of three senators to oppose passage, said all vehicles should contribute to the costs of road maintenance and construction.
"I don't care what kind of vehicle it is that they have, if you take up space on the roads of the commonwealth of Virginia, then you owe part of the fare."
Watkins and Ebbin acknowledged that paying a fair share for road maintenance and construction may ultimately be determined by a formula that calculates vehicle miles traveled and the weight of a vehicle.
The bill now heads to the House of Delegates, which has passed a similar bill in subcommittee.
Copyright 2014 - Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.