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Transportation package emerging from the Legislature favors bicycle paths, transit, electric vehicles

TRIBUNE PHOTO  - The big transportation package in the Legislature provides rebates for people who buy electric vehicles in Oregon. Several elements of the $5.3 billion transportation package passed by the Oregon House on Wednesday have an environmental flavor.

The plan includes a proposed 0.1 percent payroll tax that would raise money for public transit.

An estimated $12 million in proceeds from the vehicle excise tax would pay for rebates on the purchase of electric vehicles.

The vehicle excise tax would be structured to provide an incentive for motorists to replace "gas hogs" with more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The gradual 10-cents-per-gallon increase in gas taxes, plus new tolling on Interstates 5 and 205, would, judging from past history, reduce the amount of miles that people otherwise would drive.

A $15 fee levied on the purchase of adult bicycles priced more than $200 would help fund pedestrian and commuter bike paths.

And the measure shifts the state to a tiered system of vehicle registration and title fees based on gas mileage, providing an incentive to drive more energy-efficient vehicles.

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