Environment-friendly cars and school buses were the focus of the Senate Environment, Energy and Transportation Committee Thursday, and legislators appeared supportive of laws regarding both.
House Bill 12, sponsored by Rep. Sophie Phillips, D-Christiana, establishes a rebate program for new and used electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, using $2 million in funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
The bill would give a $2,500 rebate for electric vehicles and a $1,000 rebate for plug-in hybrids, with the available funding enough to cover up to 4,000 electric vehicles and 1,000 plug-in hybrids.
“This legislation is one more element of the ongoing effort to ensure that the transition to electric vehicles that we are increasingly seeing in our society is truly accessible for more and more people across the state of Delaware,” said Sen. Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington.
A max vehicle price cap is established at $50,000.
“One of the things that all of us have been able to agree upon on this discussion around electric vehicles is that people deserve a choice,” McBride said. “This helps to ensure that folks have truly a real choice that is an accessible option for them financially.”
The bill adds used vehicles to the existing Clean Transportation Vehicle Rewritten Rebate Program through DNREC.
“Funding does not come from the General Fund, it’s not coming from next year’s budget,” Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Dover, pointed out in support of the bill.
Senate committees do not hold public vote, so the outcome of the bill was not known at press time. It will be posted, usually hours later, on the General Assembly’s bill tracker.
If released, HB 12 will be placed on the Senate ready list.
House Bill 10, sponsored by Debra Heffernan, D-Brandywine Hundred South, requires that the Department of Education make 30% of their school bus purchases electric by 2030, with a 5% increase each year starting in 2025.
Currently, the department owns about 500 buses, which are used by various districts around the state. That’s around a third of the state’s bus fleet. Many districts use buses contracted from private vendors.
The law would also task the department to send annual implementation reports and a final report detailing recommendations for future changes in percentage targets for electric bus purchases.
Other recommendations for reducing environmental impacts of the school bus transportation fleet will also be included in the report.
“This is the direction we want to move and I’m not offended by it at all,” Buckson said. “We need to understand the cost, we need to understand how it will be implemented, and I think all those things can be done in a measured approach, rather than what I consider this to be, a rushed approach.”
He did not say whether or not he would vote for the bill, but made it clear he is open to green energy initiatives.
In public comment, there was a brief discussion about an incident that took place in Connecticut last year, when an electric bus caught on fire and exploded. No one was killed in that incident, but it made the state slow down its process of implementing electric school buses.
If passed, HB 10 will be placed on the Senate ready list for discussion.
- House Bill 208, sponsored by Rep. Larry Lambert, D-Claymont, prohibits motor vehicle loaners from including licensing, title, registration, and plate fees as a separately stated mandatory charge in a rental agreement. The discussion focused on not draining the pockets of businesses who rent vehicles for work. If released, HB 208 will next head to the Senate floor.
- House Bill 106, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Short, R-Seaford, requires the Motorcycle Rider Education Advisory Committee to meet at least quarterly to monitor the Motorcycle Rider Education Program and assess the future needs of it and recommend improvements. If released, HB 106 will next be discussed by the full Senate.
- House Bill 98, sponsored by Rep. Kim Williams, D-Marshallton, creates uniform and minimum requirements for public notice related to permits and permit renewals issued by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. If passed, HB 98 will head to the Senate floor.
- Senate Bill 190, sponsored by Sen.Kyra Hoffner, D-Smyrna, reconstitutes the Water Supply Coordinating Council to provide for a smaller, more consistent quorum for state-wide coordination. It aims to establish the structure for county-level contributions and implementation. The council primarily focuses on creating accessible water supply in the state. If released, SB 190 will head to the Senate floor.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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