What is in the $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill? It is piled with stuff that many would call pork. But we found something that is quite troubling. It is section 13002 of this massive 2700 page bill. It's a "National Motor Vehicle Per-Mile User Fee Pilot". Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy's staffers tell us this is not for all drivers. It is only dealing with electric vehicles because those owners do not pay gas taxes. It was also noted that it is only a "pilot program" and is not going to be implemented nationwide. It will be on a voluntary basis.

A staffer for Senator Cassidy sent this message to KEEL News:

"This is about getting at the issue of electric vehicles using roads but not paying the gas tax. So both gas and electric vehicles can participate in the pilot program. And no taxes are being collected from this. It is just seeing if alternative methods to the gas tax would even be possible."

But you be the judge of what is included in this bill.

The bill says:

The term ‘‘per-mile user fee’’ means a revenue mechanism that—

"Is applied to road users operating motor vehicles on the surface transportation system; and is based on the number of vehicle miles traveled by an individual road user."

OK, I do see the word 'voluntary' in this proposal, but it makes me wonder "who would volunteer to participate in a program to pay more taxes". Maybe I'm missing something, but I am confused about this.

There is some discussion in the bill that the volunteers will be paid. But I could not find verbiage about how much you would be paid. The bill does include $15,000,000 for this pilot program.

Here's what the volunteers would have to do under this program:

"Not more than 60 days after the end of each calendar quarter in which a volunteer participant has participated in the pilot program, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, shall estimate an amount of payment for each volunteer based on the vehicle miles submitted by the volunteer."

The objectives of the pilot program are "to test the design, acceptance, implementation, and financial sustainability of a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee."

How will your miles be tracked? The bill includes a few methods.

1. Third-party on-board diagnostic devices (black box).
2. Smart phone applications.
3. Telemetric data collected by automakers.
4. Motor vehicle data obtained by car insurance companies.
5. Motor vehicle data obtained from fueling stations.

A spokesman for Senator Cassidy tells us this is all about electric vehicles and is not intended for gas-powered vehicles. But the verbiage "fueling stations" confuses me. If this was about electric vehicles, why doesn't this say charging stations? And there is no language at all in this "pilot program" that says it is only for electric or alternative powered vehicles.

If something like this is in the bill, you have to wonder what else is in there?

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