Missouri lawmakers look at vehicle fees, tolls to boost road funding

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/11/2019

Talks continue at the Missouri statehouse for a solution to the state’s $825 million gap in annual road and bridge funding.

In November, voters rejected a question to raise Missouri’s 17-cent fuel tax by 10 cents over four years. The tax increase would have raised $437 million annually.

Less than one week into the convening of the state’s regular session, legislators have offered numerous options to help address the funding situation.

Vehicle fees
Two legislators have introduced bills to change how the state collects certain vehicle registration fees.

Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, and Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, R-Washington, have bills to transition noncommercial motor vehicle registration fees from a taxable horsepower to a miles-per-gallon vehicle registration fee.

SB201 would have personal vehicles rated at less than 29 miles per gallon pay a base fee of $24. Vehicles rated 29-60 mpg would pay an additional fee of $6 per mpg. Vehicles rated above 61 mpg would pay the fee for a vehicle rated at 60 mpg.

Alternative fuel vehicles would pay registration fees equal to vehicles rated at greater than 60 mpg.

Vehicle mpg rating would be based on the vehicles’ combined city/highway miles per gallon.

Language included in HB500 has not yet been released.

A proposed constitutional amendment would change how state license fees and vehicle taxes are collected.
Currently, 10 percent of revenue is sent to counties, 15 percent goes to cities and the remainder is routed into the state road fund.

Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Messenger, R-Greene, HJR17 would link the fees and taxes for inflation. The additional revenue would be divvied up as follows:

  • 10 percent to the farm to market fund,
  • 10 percent to the port development fund,
  • 10 percent to the state road bond fund,
  • 3 percent to the highway patrol, and
  • 67 percent to the state road fund.

A separate effort from Messenger would increase vehicle fees to get road work done.

HB406 would raise specified license fees related to motor vehicles for inflation based on a formula in the bill. An initial adjustment would occur in Jan. 2021. Additional adjustments would occur every three years.

Another House bill, HB351 would allow cities, towns, or villages to impose a $1 vehicle rental fee.

Sponsored by Rep. Tom Hannegan, R-St. Charles, the measure would deposit revenue into the state road fund for road improvements.

Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, is behind a bill that addresses concerns about the lack of money available for transportation work in the state.

Missouri now sends 3 percent of the state’s sales tax on most purchases to the general revenue fund.

SB190 would reroute one-half of one percent to transportation. All revenue would be deposited into the state’s road fund over five years.

Messenger has another effort to collect more revenue for transportation.

HJR15 proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize the state to construct and operate toll roads. Tolls could be collected at the entrances of interstates or four-lane roadways.

The federal government must authorize the toll project.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says the transportation funding predicament that Missouri finds itself in will not be easy to resolve.

“Missouri’s state gas/diesel tax rate hasn’t been increased since the early ’90s,” said OOIDA Manager of Government Affairs Mike Matousek. “While several proposals have been considered to address the state’s transportation infrastructure needs, they’ve either been rejected by the legislature itself or Missouri voters.”

Matousek adds that until a long-term solution is enacted the situation will continue into the foreseeable future.

“Our goal is to make sure whatever is considered would be equitable for truckers, which means we’ll continue to oppose the expansion of toll roads and disproportional tax increases to diesel.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri, click here.





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