California nears plan to charge drivers by the mile

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

The California Legislature approved a bill to change how the state raises revenue for transportation work.State senators voted 23-11 to sign off on changes to a bill that would set up a task force to develop a voluntary program to test a new way to get money from highway users.   SB1077 now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.   Assembly lawmakers already approved it on a 46-26 vote.  

Specifically, the bill would authorize a pilot program in the state to assess the practicality of taxing truckers and other drivers based on vehicle miles traveled in the state. The VMT tax could replace the state’s fuel tax as people are driving vehicles that get better mileage.  Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, says the excise tax is “not a long-term viable funding solution.”   He describes his bill as “a critical first step toward California considering a mileage-based fee” as an alternative to the excise tax on fuels.  Oregon and Washington are testing similar programs.

DeSaulnier has said his proposed pilot program is a reasonable approach to address the impending fiscal cliff for transportation funding.  “We have to look at these kinds of things as Oregon and Washington have in anticipation of this cliff we’re about to go off,” DeSaulnier told Senate lawmakers prior to a floor vote.  The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is on the record as opposing the VMT tax.   The Association sent communication to California lawmakers conveying the concerns of professional truckers.  OOIDA Director of State Legislative Affairs Mike Matousek told lawmakers the Association supports investments into transportation infrastructure.  “However, if additional revenue is needed, increasing the fuel tax is the most equitable and efficient option, so long as the generated revenue is used for its intended purpose,” he said.

Have You Ever Been…

Have you ever been stuck in an elevator?    I was going about my day as usual, stocking the breakrooms and pantries in an office building.  I was at the second stop of the day.  I got on the elevator to the 6th floor when it stopped between the 5th and 6th.  A loud bell started ringing and my immediate thought was, ‘What the hell?’  I reached over and started punching buttons to see if the doors would open, they didn’t.  A loud voice came over the intercom in the elevator to let me know that someone was on their way to fix the situation. I acknowledged them and told them that I was the only one in the elevator.

I manuevered the cart I was pushing to the side so that I could sit down on the floor.  I pulled out my phone and started checking my emails.  The whole time, I kept wondering when I was going to lose my mind, start sweating, or even start shaking.  It never happened.  At least, I now know that I am not claustrophobic!  Actually, it was kind of peaceful in there.  I could hear people talking about the elevator being stuck and there was one person inside.  I started to call several people but decided against it.

Twenty minutes later, the car jolted and then moved up and the doors opened.  I stood up and saw that there was a crowd outside the door.  I smiled and walked out with my cart.  Everybody was making a big deal about the fact I was smiling instead of being upset, I was fine, there was no need to be upset.  I can now say I have been trapped in an elevator!  It felt longer than 20 minutes.

Now, for the most embarrassing part
Being trapped in such a small space, not only did I have to go pee, I had a terrible case of …gas!  OMG!  When the doors opened and the smell hit everyone in the face, I felt 2 inches tall!  I could not get out of there fast enough.  Some people laughed and others showed their indignity with frowns and waving their hands in front of their faces.  You could have bought me for a nickel when that door opened.  Needless to say, no one entered the elevator after I left!  :-/