We encourage the Iowa Legislature to keep pursuing the Senate File 136 bill that would ultimately end the flat, low registration fees enjoyed by Iowa pickup owners.
New truck buyers in Iowa currently pay just $65 annually to license a 3-ton pickup, while owners of cars, SUVs, and minivans pay hundreds of dollars based on their vehicle's value and weight.
Under the bill, owners of new trucks purchased in the 2009 model year and after would pay higher registration fees based on value and weight, just like the fees paid for other vehicles.
Many legislators now believe that the flat fees, initially established to benefit pickup-driving farmers, should be scrapped at a time when the state is scrambling for road-building dollars. The fees are one ingredient in Iowa's road construction fund.
The change would raise an estimated $11.3 million initially, and more in subsequent years.
We also don't accept the complaint that raising pickup registration fees a couple hundred dollars per year would be a "financial burden" for pickup owners. After all, they don't hesitate to pay the big bucks for the powerful, sporty gas guzzlers that now abound in today's society.
"The urban cowboys need to pay up," succinctly said Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, who supports the bill and summed up the bill's essence in one clever sentence.
A Senate subcommittee will take up the bill later this week as some lawmakers oppose it, thinking such a fee hike is not the right thing to do in a state with 775,000 pickup trucks.
Those in favor of such a bill maintain that a recent report showing Iowa's road construction budget is at least $200 million short of meeting critical needs demands higher pickup registration fees to help offset that shortage.
Senate President Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg, favors raising the fees and said it will take a bipartisan effort to get it done. "It's just a matter of fairness," said Kibbie, who drives a pickup whose registration fee would jump from $65 to more than $300.
We commend Johnson and Kibbie for the courage of their convictions and the ability to join in a bipartisan push to what would ensure fairness and equity to all Iowans who pay registration/licensing fees.
Ridding our state of such out-dated "welfare" is long overdue.
Come to think of it, why not year 2008?