SPECIAL REPORT: Nevada bill would add weight-distance tax for trucks

| 4/18/2007

Wednesday, April 18 , 2007 – A bill moving through the Nevada Assembly calls for truckers to chip in more to help pay for $3.8 billion in road work in the state.

The Assembly Transportation Committee approved the bill, which would add a weight-distance tax of 15 cents per mile for many large trucks. The tax would affect trucks weighing more than 55,000 pounds, including local garbage trucks and cement haulers.

The levy could generate $1.3 billion through 2015.

Also tabbed for higher fees are rental car firms. The bill – AB595 – would increase revenue by another $87 million in the same period by tacking on a 2 percent state tax on car rentals.

Supporters say imposing more tax on the trucking industry is a better way to fund road work than fuel taxes. The charges more accurately reflect the wear and tear on roads caused by individual vehicles, they say.

Opponents say truckers already pay 40 percent of the fuel taxes and fees that fund transportation in the state. They also say a weight-distance tax would make Nevada the most expensive state for the trucking industry to do business in.

“It’s absolutely detrimental to the trucking industry in the state of Nevada. It would be an insidious and secret tax on goods citizens in the state buy,” Nevada Motor Transport Association lobbyist Paul Enos told “Land Line Now.”

Gov. Jim Gibbons shares that concern. He is opposed to traditional funding methods for roads that include tax and fee increases.

The governor said taxing the trucking industry would inevitably raise consumer prices for goods delivered by truck. He said it also could hurt the state’s business-friendly climate, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Instead, Gibbons said he is open to the possibility of entering into public-private partnerships.

Enos said there are alternatives that must be considered. Among the possibilities he mentioned is redirecting money from the state’s general fund for transportation.

“Not one specific industry or entity should be hit any harder than anyone else,” Enos said.

The bill has been moved to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. If approved there, it would head to the chamber floor before it could go to the Senate.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this report.