HB 1918: Requiring the Transition to Zero-Emission Outdoor Power Equipment

This bill would reduce carbon emissions from outdoor power equipment by creating a tax incentive for the purchase of zero-emission equipment, increasing taxes on gas-powered equipment, and establishing a deadline for phasing out the use of gas-powered equipment by local jurisdictions on January 1, 2025.

While we support the intent behind this legislation, we have significant concerns with the resulting increase in cost for gas-powered equipment and the overall impact on our daily operations. Every day, counties are required to maintain public buildings, parks, and the right-of-way using outdoor power equipment. We must also have reliable equipment capable of responding to disasters, emergencies, and severe weather events when they occur. We are concerned that the mandate and deadline in this bill might jeopardize our ability to get the job done and be ready to respond.

The bill was heard this week in the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Relations, and we raised the following concerns in written testimony:

  • This equipment can be expensive, and the proposed tax increase in Section 2 of the bill comes at a time when we are already seeing significant cost increases for materials and equipment. These costs are rising much faster than the largest source of revenue counties have, property tax, which remains capped at one percent plus new construction.
  • Section 4 of the bill creates questions about our practical ability to replace non-zero emission equipment we regularly use such as chainsaws, leaf blowers, line trimmers, mowers, and pressure washers. Right now, we aren’t aware of battery-powered trimming/cutting equipment on the market that has both the power and run-time to support many of our operations. Again, while we recognize the many benefits of zero-emission equipment, we are concerned that too rapid of a transition won’t make sense until battery performance is better. If jurisdictions are unable to find effective zero-emission replacements, then the goals of the legislation may go unmet; instead, just increasing costs to counties without an alternative.
  • We appreciate that the bill language considers phasing-out equipment over time, but are concerned that the January 1, 2025, deadline is very ambitious. We would welcome an opportunity to discuss any possible extension of this timeframe to help alleviate the uncertainty about whether the market will have adequate alternatives and enough supply, particularly, if many jurisdictions are trying to accomplish this goal at the same time.

Other Bills to Watch

Monday Jan 24

HB 1870: Concerning certain wheeled all-terrain vehicles.
Scheduled: Public hearing in the House Committee on Transportation at 3:30 PM
Position: Support, with concerns.

Tuesday, Jan 25

SB 5742: Concerning stormwater control facilities and county jurisdiction.
Scheduled: Public hearing in the Senate Committee on Housing & Local Government at 8:00 AM
Position: Opposed

Tuesday, Jan 25

HB 1948: Concerning failing water systems receivership and rehabilitation.
Scheduled: Public hearing in the House Committee on Local Government at 10:00 AM
Position: Support

Thursday, Jan 27

HB 2026: Implementing a per miles charge on vehicles.
Scheduled: Public hearing in the House Committee on Transportation at 3:30
Position: Support, with concerns

Friday, Jan 28

HB 1722: Concerning the acceleration of broadband deployment.
Scheduled: Public hearing in the House Committee on Local Government at 8:00 AM
Position: Opposed