Lawmakers kill once-ordered UTA name change, and offer relief to electric, hybrid car owners – Salt Lake Tribune

Carlton Christensen, the chairman of the Utah Transit Authority Board, says his appointment certificate may soon be a collector’s item — so he framed it.

“By law, it had to say I was appointed to the ‘Transit District Utah’ board,” he said. “It may have been about the only thing UTA ever produced with that name on it.”

On Monday, the Legislature killed that Transit District Utah name — which technically had been UTA’s official moniker for much of the past year. The Senate gave final passage to an amended SB72 and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his consideration.

The name change was ordered last year as part of a massive bill to restructure the scandal-tainted agency — and was intended to highlight that the agency is changing. But UTA complained it would cost $50 million to rebrand everything from buses to trains, uniforms, signs and stationery.

SB72 also makes other more significant tweaks to the big transportation bill that passed last year.

It allows owners of clean-fuel cars to lower their new higher registration fees by volunteering to be guinea pigs for a tax on the miles they drive.

Such cars now largely escape the gasoline tax. So lawmakers imposed higher registration fees on them: $60 for electric cars, $26 for plug-in hybrids and $10 for gas hybrids. They will increase annually until 2021, when electric cars will pay $120, plug-in hybrids will pay $52 and gas hybrids will pay $20.

It will impose a tax for every mile driven — so vehicles that travel fewer miles pay lower taxes. The maximum possible charge is the same as the new higher registration fees. Officials say that someday, such a tax system may replace gas taxes.

Amendments approved Monday also alter how members of the new UTA Board will be appointed.

The new procedure will require more initial nominees from more government entities. The governor then has 60 days to make an appointment, or the decision reverts back to the largest county commission or council in the district.


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