Prius Envy: Effort Under Way to Brake Guv’s Hybrid Tax 

It was derided as regressive, stupid and ignorant. But whatever, Gov. Bob McDonnell's transportation plan passed the General Assembly with bipartisan support. Time to move on?

Maybe not. Two Northern Virginia lawmakers are asking McDonnell to use his line-item veto power to eliminate a portion of the bill that earlier in the session inspired a parade of Priuses to circle the State Capitol in protest.

As intimidating a sight as that must have been, the version of McDonnell's transportation plan that passed includes a $100 annual fee to be assessed on owners of alternative fuel vehicles.

NoHybridTax.com aims to change that, and a day after its launch had generated thousands of signatures.

The lawmakers behind the petition, Delegate Scott A. Surovell, D-Mount Vernon, and state Sen. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, tell The Washington Post that "the legislature's decision to boost the cost of driving a hybrid runs counter to the policies of several other states that offer incentives for the vehicles because they promise to create less pollution and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil."

"It's mind-boggling," Surovell, who owns a Honda Civic hybrid, tells the newspaper. "To me, it's incredibly punitive for people making a decision that's better for our country and better for our environment."

McDonnell says he'll look at the issues to make sure hybrid owners are treated fairly, but also says he thinks the alternative vehicle fee is "just a matter of fundamental equity" because hybrids use less gas and thus pay fewer gas taxes. (Of note: McDonnell's original plan included the fee but eliminated the gas tax.)

Meanwhile, the possibility of a Virginia hybrid tax has drawn national ridicule. Actor Alec Baldwin called the plan "ignorant and unfair." (Asked if Baldwin's opinion might influence the governor's decision, a McDonnell spokesman ignores the question.)

And on Saturday, National Public Radio's news quiz segment, "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me" ridiculed the plan, asking its panel of celebrity contestants what Virginia lawmakers think is wrong with hybrids.

The answer? They don't burn enough fuel.


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