Wyoming Legislature to consider 15-cent fuel tax boost

February 14, 2022

Keith Goble

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The Wyoming Legislature convenes in regular session Monday and one bill getting attention would boost the state’s fuel tax rate by 15 cents.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believes increasing the fuel tax is the most equitable way for states to generate additional revenue.

Wyoming’s current tax rate of 24 cents per gallon is unchanged since 2013. At that time, the tax rate was increased by 10 cents.

Round four

This year’s effort marks the fourth time in as many sessions that lawmakers have considered raising road revenue via the state’s fuel tax.

During the 2021 session, the House Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill to tap the funding source to enhance support for state and local road work.

The bill called for increasing the 24-cent tax on gas and diesel by 9 cents to 33 cents per gallon over three years. The tax on alternative fuels would have been raised by the same amount.

The legislation did not receive a House floor vote, effectively killing it for the year.

Eating into the funding gap

The Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Interim Committee voted 9-2 in November to advance a bill for consideration in the 2022 session that would raise the tax on gas and diesel by 15 cents to 39 cents. The increase would occur in five-cent increments over three years.

The first nickel increase would occur in July 2022. Additional increases would take effect in July 2023 and July 2024, when the tax rate would reach 39 cents.

The tax increase would also apply to alternative fuel vehicles.

A fiscal note attached to the bill, HB14, estimates the tax increase would raise $34.3 million in fiscal year 2023. The amount would grow to $68.7 million in fiscal year 2024, and $103.1 million in fiscal year 2025.

Funding would be applied for highway construction, repair and maintenance. Revenue could not be used for Wyoming Department of Transportation operating or administrative expenses.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation reports a $354 million yearly shortfall.

Despite the $113 million boost WYDOT will receive from the recently passed federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the agency says a fuel tax increase would help to fill the remaining funding gap.

One criticism voiced about the bill in the lead-up to the regular session is it does not single out truck drivers for more money.

Rep. Mark Baker, R-Green River, told the interim committee he will oppose the bill because it “unfairly puts a burden on passenger vehicles” to help address funding needs.

“To me, the damage is being done by the commercial vehicles, so the burden should be placed on them to go ahead and pay for and address the issue,” Baker said.

Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, challenged the point that truckers do not pay their fair share.

“Truckers pay other taxes, not just fuel taxes, to repair the roads.”

HB14 awaits assignment to committee. LL

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.