The House Transportation Committee this week cleared HB 1204 after heavy revisions to its original mandate that would require all vehicles sold after 2030 to be electric. The proposed substitute instead makes it a legally unenforceable state goal and prohibits state agencies from restricting the sale of a vehicle in order to implement it.
It’s a far cry from the original bill in which the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) would have had to create regulations by 2025 regarding how to mandate electric vehicle-only car sales, while the Department of Licensing would have been prohibited from registering vehicle licenses to non-electric cars made after 2030.
Rep. Alex Ramel (D-41) told colleagues that the revised bill turns the mandate into “a goal statement so that our agencies, so that our partners, have an idea of what direction” the state wants to go.
The change was met with positive feedback from Republican committee members such as Rep. Andrew Barkis (R-2), though he said members still had reservations about it. “2030 – it’s really not that far away. The cost of an electric vehicle compared to a conventional vehicle – we’ve got a long way to go on that.”
Rep. Jim Walsh (R-19) was also supportive of the changes but voted against the bill. “Today is a good day to be humble. I think we always need to look at public policy in terms of humility. Our great concern in the original draft is it was not humble. This is a goal, and setting goals is fine. I’m just concerned of the ghost in the machine – that some of that not-so-humble sense that we saw in the earlier version may still be floating out there.”
Many of those testifying on the original bill during its Feb. 1 public hearing noted that it would ban not only gasoline vehicles but also any fuel type other than electric, a move they said would stifle innovation by preventing potential new vehicle fuel technology from entering the market in the state while ignoring advancements made with gas fuel efficiency vehicles.
“I don’t like government mandates where we get rid of one industry wholesale,” Rep. Robert Sutherland (R-39) said.
HB 1204 has been referred to the Rules Committee for review.