This week, the Alabama Legislature passed Gov. Kay Ivey's proposed gas tax bill in record speed. I don't think any state driver would disagree with the stated alleged purpose to repair roads and bridges. Yet, there are a couple very troubling aspects to the bill.
As written, much of the millions to be collected will be distributed to counties and municipalities to “repair roads and bridges.” What is missing here is an airtight, no wriggle clause that REQUIRES that these funds be used only for that purpose -- NOTHING ELSE. You and I know that we have never met a politician who doesn't love a tax and will seize any opportunity to divert the funds.
Another part of this gas tax that is, I feel, a gross mistake in judgment is the annual surcharge of $100 on hybrid vehicle owners and $300 charge on electric car owners. This is without any doubt “selective enforcement” prohibited in the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
While this provision has been used in many diverse cases, such as prosecution of racial profiling, it clearly prohibits the targeting of any select group or individuals for enforcement of a law. Hybrid and electric car owners cannot, under our Constitution, be singled out and forced to pay these surcharges. Isn't it ironic that our federal government has channeled all kinds of tax incentives to entice drivers to buy hybrid and electric to “save the environment,” and now we have the state Legislature and governor punishing them for the same acts? I can see a class action lawsuit on behalf of all hybrid and electric car owners in the state coming.
Sometimes I wonder at how we ever get anything done in this state when I see such bonehead legislation as this. I have to ask our representatives why did they pass an increase in the gas tax when there has been gas tax revenue collected continuously all these years? What have they used that for?
James W. Anderson