South Coast AQMD considering vehicle registration fee increase for smog reduction

By Michael Shaw

Capitol Update, Sept. 30, 2016 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

As a means to help pay for smog reduction programs, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is proposing an increase in vehicle registration fees for millions of Southern California drivers. The proposed $30 increase would generate an additional $300 million a year for pollution-reduction programs.

A major hurdle facing such a proposal is the fact that it would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the State Legislature and the signature of the Governor. This would be on the table until 2017 with the new Legislature elected in November this year.

Many political experts believe that it is likely Democrats in the State Assembly will achieve a two-thirds majority, but the likelihood in that happening in the State Senate is less so. However, given California's recent experience with Democrat super-majorities in both houses, having two-thirds majorities would not necessarily result in tax and fee increases any more than otherwise would be the case. The potential of a new Legislature approving such an action by SCAQMD is debatable and would not come easy regardless of the partisan breakdown.

The vehicle registration fee hike is one of a broad range of potential federal, state and local funding sources the SCAQMD is evaluating for use in fighting smog. Other approaches to reducing smog-forming emissions from cars, trucks, oil refineries, ports, and logistics centers include voluntary, “non-regulatory” measures that encourage, rather than force, polluters to adopt cleaner technology.  

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