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Jan 19, 2016 8:06 PM

New road usage fee emerges at NH State House: Your car gets better mileage, you pay more

CONCORD - "So in summary the goal is to make every car pay the same amount to use the roads," says State Rep. Bill Ohm, R-Nashua.

A first in the nation proposition, a proposed road user fee that charges you the better mileage your car gets.

"It’s really not fair that a certain segment of road users are paying through the form of a gas tax for road and bridge maintenance while others are paying less or in some cases nothing,’" says David Juvet, executive vice president of the Business & Industry Association.

But fiscal conservatives and this East Kingston motorist says the proposition is wrong-headed since it punishes good behavior.

"I still think this bill is discriminatory in that it penalizes responsible drivers for driving high mileage cars," says Mary Reese.

Here’s how it works. Each year at your car registration, the town would find out how many miles you car was driven this year. This would be combined with the mileage rating of your vehicle. No fee if it gets less than 20 miles per gallon. If you get 50 miles per gallon and went 20K last year, you’d pay $222.

"Fundamentally I think it’s bad tax policy and a tax hike that frankly our drivers can’t afford after a significant one 18 months ago," says Greg Moore, state director of Americans for Prosperity, a fiscally conservative group.

Moore refers to the four-cent increase in the gas tax lawmakers approved in 2013, the first such raise since 1991.

Advocates say the fairest system would be a fee for miles traveled but New Hampshire would never go for how that would be done.

"Generally the way to do that would have the state of New Hampshire put a GPS in everybody’s car and in no way is anybody interested in that. The privacy issues would be astronomical," adds State Rep. Paul Henle, D-Concord.

Associated General Contractors and the Good Roads Association of New Hampshire also backed the bill.

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