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USA: Oregon mileage tax: State looks for simple way

Oregon is looking a new direction in its search for a way to collect a road user tax in order to make up for an expected drop in fuel tax revenue: It wants to give people a choice among various private technologies and systems.

For 10 years, a Road User Fee Task Force within the Oregon Department of Transportation has been working off and on on how to collect some kind of a mileage fee instead of the gas and diesel tax tax.

Lately, the issue has become more urgent with the advent of hybrids that pay less road tax, and now all-electrics that pay no user tax at all.

In 2006, the task force tested a GPS-based system for tracking how many miles a vehicle was being driven so that a mileage fee could be assessed.

The test showed that though complicated, the idea worked, but it generated strong opposition in Oregon and around the country from people who feared — needlessly, according to ODOT — that the system could be used for government surveillance of where they went.

Now that idea is dead, says Jim Whitty, the staff director of the task force.

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