Maryland Senate approves vehicle fee hikes

| 4/15/2004

Maryland drivers likely will see a hike in their vehicle registration fees July 1, after senators gave final approval to Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s transportation fee package April 9.

The legislation, which is expected to raise $165 million a year for road projects and mass transit, was approved by a 29-18 vote. The House passed the bill last month.

It now heads to the governor, who is expected to sign it, even though House lawmakers stripped $90 million from it in committee, The Associated Press reported.

The fees, along with adjusted revenue forecasts, would generate $233 million a year for the transportation trust fund — relying primarily on an annual increase in vehicle-registration fees. The surcharge amount would be determined by the cost of the vehicle but would not be computed as a percentage.

The package – HB1467 – falls short of the goal set by a task force that outlined the road projects needed in Maryland by 2010. The panel determined last year that $17 billion worth of projects are needed over the next six years; the plan as amended would allow the department to raise $12 billion, The AP reported.

The House voted 72-69 March 19 to approve the stripped-down version of Ehrlich’s $320 million plan. Lawmakers took out fee increases for moving violations and drunken driving. Also removed was a proposal to funnel rental car sales taxes, worth $32 million.