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Lawmakers debate bill to extend electric vehicle tax credits, then phase them out

SALT LAKE CITY — Lingering concerns over the electric vehicle state tax credit are sending the sponsor of a legislative proposal back to talks with his colleagues and others to possibly reach more compromises.

HB29, sponsored by Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, seeks to extend the tax credit that lapsed at the end of 2016 but gradually phase it out by 2022.

Handy said the measure is intended to offer a modest stimulation of electric vehicle purchases throughout Utah, without a substantial subsidy, with an eye toward getting pollution out of the air and cleaner cars on the road.

The bill requires a yearly report to analyze impacts of the tax credit and caps the financial harm to the education fund at $125,000.

There are 2,500 electric vehicles out of 2.5 million cars and trucks on Utah roads because there are just not many options available, Handy told members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Wednesday.

But Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, said he has concerns because there is not a cap on the amount of money the state would spend on tax credits for electric vehicle purchases. Although the education fund would be capped at a certain level, the money would have to come from some other bucket of money.

"I would rather have that certainty to limit exposure to the state," Greene said.

Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber City, added that the amount of money the state would have to pay out is potentially endless if electric vehicle purchases skyrocket.

"The actual fiscal note on this is infinite," he said.

Handy agreed to work out continuing concerns over the measure with members of the committee and determine whether there is room for more changes in the bill, which is in its fourth iteration.

The bill will be heard again Monday before the same committee.