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Killing California One Car at a Time

Republican State Senator Rico Oller

Some notable milestones in automotive history:

1908 – Henry Ford rolls out the first Model T.

1936 – The first Volkswagen is built

1983 – Chrysler introduces the first “minivan”

California motorists can add the year 2002 to this history list, but for far different reasons. It’s because Governor Davis is giving us an unprecedented double whammy – signing so-called “greenhouse gas” legislation that will drive up the cost of millions of vehicles in California, and pushing a budget that will more than double what you pay in your annual car tax.

Take the emissions bill first. Rushed through the Legislature by procedural moves and approved on party-line votes, Governor Davis signed Assembly Bill

1493 into law this past week. Claiming they want to curb global warming, environmentalists sponsored the bill hoping to further micromanage automakers in order to achieve their goal. While cleaning up our air is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, this bill seeks to fix a problem that doesn’t exist and gives too much power to an unaccountable state bureaucracy.

AB 1493 requires the state Air Resources Board – an unelected 11-member body appointed by the governor – to develop regulations in three years on how to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions from non-commercial vehicles. The board would have wide latitude in setting the emission limits, but would only be required to “consider” whether the regulations were technologically feasible or whether they would have a negative effect on jobs and the economy.

The bill’s intent is to reduce vehicle emissions by eliminating carbon dioxide (CO2) – something that occurs naturally in the atmosphere and doesn’t cause smog.

Humans and animals produce carbon dioxide with every breath we take. It’s also released when carbon-based fuels such as oil are burned – which is at the heart of what environmentalists seek to drastically reduce.

Even though there’s significant disagreement in the scientific community over the issue, environmentalists are convinced that taking extreme measures to reduce carbon dioxide will reduce global warming. Therefore, by their logic, vehicles must be redesigned to meet the emissions regulations that the bill requires the air board to establish.

The new restrictions will force automakers to try a variety of untested technologies on vehicles – which will add to the cost of those vehicles – with no significant environmental benefit. The end result? Californians will be forced to either drive fewer miles or drive smaller vehicles.

It will affect almost everyone – from the mom or dad who takes the kids to school in a minivan to the farmer whose pick-up is part of his livelihood.

Even California’s many outdoor enthusiasts who take their sport utility vehicles to the mountains or the beach wouldn’t be exempted.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Governor Davis is pushing for a state budget that will hike California’s vehicle license fee – the state’s car tax – by $2.4 billion to help pay off the multi-billion dollar budget deficit he’s racked up.

How many Californians pay the car tax? According to the most recent DMV information, it’s paid by the owners of 19.7 million automobiles, 6.4 million commercial trucks pay it, and 495,000 motorcycles.

How much will everyone’s car tax go up under the Davis plan? It depends on the value of each vehicle, but in nearly all cases it will more than double.

The owners of a car worth $16,000 will pay a new car tax of $240 – $136 more than the current rate. The tax on a family minivan worth $24,000 would be $360 – a hike of $204. And someone who owns a truck worth $28,000 would pay a car tax of $420 – up $238.

For the overwhelming number of California drivers, cars and trucks aren’t a luxury item – they’re a necessity of life. They get us to and from work, carry our kids to school, and in many cases are an essential part of our jobs.

But in order to score election-year environmental points and help pay for the budget mess he created, Governor Davis has chosen to punish California motorists.

That’s just plain wrong.

Truckee is included in Republican State Senator Rico Oller’s district.


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