UTA Overhaul Gets Early Green Light, But Some Stakeholders Want To Put Brakes On Fee Hikes
Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, believes technology, cars and lifestyles are changing rapidly, and the state needs to adapt if it wants to keep up.
That’s where S.B.136, his 122-page bill that rewrites transportation policy, comes in. Harper introduced the legislation on Monday to the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities Energy and Technology Committee.
“It is the basis for critical changes in UTA, UDOT, funding prioritization, governance, long-range plans and improved mobility," he said. "These changes will require stretching, creativity and transitions by all of us — every stakeholder."
The bill's biggest change would be greater state oversight of UTA. The part-time, 16-member board would be replaced by a three-member, governor appointed board of trustees.
But the bill also proposes a host of new taxes and fee hikes to fund infrastructure projects. They include a $150 registration fee for electric vehicles and a tax hike on hotel rooms and rental cars.
A number of industries targeted in the fee proposals spoke out during public comment. Ed Fowler, a representative of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, said his industry was already overburdened.
“They are already the highest taxed customer in the state at 16.35. And this would increase it to a whopping 18.85 percent," he said. "Most of our car rental customers are Utah residents, and your constituents, with a lot of them being lower income families.”
The bill was given a favorable recommendation by the committee. It will next be heard by the full Senate.
Harper said a number of the fees are still in discussion and have not yet been finalized.