July | August 2017



Washington May Extend Tax Exemption for Alternative Fuel Vehicles

A slower shift by Washington drivers to electric cars may prompt the state to extend tax exemptions set to expire in 2015. Although it is one of the best sales markets in the country for fully electric and other alternative fuel vehicles, electric car registrations remain a fraction of total vehicle registrations in Washington.
The tax incentive took effect in 2009 and has been extended once. But auto industry representatives say more time is needed, Northwest Public Radio reported in January.
“The tax preference is necessary because study after study tells us that one of the major barriers to consumer adoption is the differential price,” auto industry lobbyist Sandi Warthout told lawmakers in Olympia. “Your average alternative fuel vehicle is going to cost you $10,000 more than the conventional vehicle that is comparable.”
Some legislators are heeding such warnings and have proposed more time for alternative fuel vehicles to take root in the state. House Bill 2418 would extend the tax exemption to 2023. While the legislation has bipartisan support, some lawmakers want to see it limited to those who more readily need the tax break by making luxury alternative fuel vehicles exempt from the tax incentive.
Neighboring Oregon also has an incentive program to promote the sale of alternative fuel vehicles, which is set to expire in 2017.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell has submitted legislation that would boost per-student education funding by $201 over the next three years, reports the Juneau Empire. House Bill 278 provides for the first such increase in four years, which would cost the state $50 million. Other provisions included in the legislation would repeal the state high school exit exam, allow high school students to test out of courses, increase stipends for residential school students and allow high school students to receive dual credit toward postsecondary degrees.

Arizona Rep. Bob Thorpe believes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is too slow in reimbursing ranchers who have lost livestock to wolves and is calling for the state to take over the process, The Arizona Daily Star reported in January. Thorpe’s proposal comes amidst ongoing efforts to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf to larger parts of Arizona and New Mexico. The coordinator for the wolf recovery project, however, argues an adequate process is already in place, noting that payments are made within 30 days following the receipt of required information from ranchers seeking reimbursement.
Known for its traditionally diverse makeup, the California legislature has seen one demographic decline for much of the past decade. Women held 37 of the 120 state’s legislative seats in 2006, according to the Associated Press. They now hold 32, and some fear more losses over the next year. California was sixth in the nation for the percentage of women serving in the legislature in 2004; it has since fallen to 19th.

The Idaho National Guard has named its first woman battalion commander. Maj. Kimberly Tschepen assumed command of the 145th Brigade Support Battalion in January, the Idaho Statesman reported. She has served two tours in Iraq.
Air quality is becoming a high priority among Utah legislators. Protestors took to the Capitol steps for two days in January, demanding action to clean up the air. In response, state lawmakers have proposed implementing guidelines that surpass the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirements, Utah Public Radio reported. One bill includes a provision for the adoption of Tier III standards ahead of EPA requirements. Gov. Gary Herbert also has expressed support for the measure.