Idaho publicly challenges fuel export tax proposed in Washington 

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

The Idaho House of Representatives passed a memorial Tuesday morning opposing a proposed tax on fuel exported from Washington state.

Last week, the Washington Senate passed a bill that would add a tax of six cents per gallon of refined fuel exported out of state. The legislation passed the Senate on Feb. 15, and the House Transportation Committee is scheduled to hear it this week.

If the bill becomes law, the tax would go into effect on June 30, 2023, and would affect fuel exported from Washington to Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. The tax is part of a $16 billion proposal introduced by Washington state Democrats to fund infrastructure improvements over the next 16 years, including upgraded ferries and highway maintenance, according to The Center Square.

The Idaho House resolution states “a recent proposal in the Washington Legislature to impose a six-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel exported to Idaho, for the purpose of funding transportation and other projects in Washington, would create additional and unnecessary costs to Idahoans.”

The resolution calls Washington’s proposed legislation potentially unconstitutional and in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

“(T)he Legislature will take any and all actions necessary to block this new tax on the citizens of Idaho, who should never be subject to taxation without representation,” it says.

The Idaho House unanimously passed the resolution, which the House Chief Clerk will send to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. 

The legislation has prompted both Democratic and Republican leaders of Oregon, Idaho and Alaska to speak out.

In a statement issued Friday, Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden called on Inslee to stop Washington’s “dangerous proposals to increase the cost of fuel for Idahoans.” 

Last week, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she spoke with Inslee and “made very clear that Washington taking unilateral action to increase gas prices for Oregon families and businesses is unacceptable.”

“Washington leaders should know their actions will impact Oregonians’ lives,” she added. “Continued collaboration between our states will always lead to better outcomes for both Washington and Oregon.”

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has also decried the bill. “Washington State is currently debating a tax that targets Alaska’s fuel costs,” he wrote last week. “Their view of Alaska as a colony is reflected on a tax on all of us, with nary a care to our lives and economy. If Alaska is to be punished as a business partner with Washington State, then we will respond accordingly.”

Melissa Davlin contributed to this report.

<strong>Ruth Brown</strong> | Producer
Ruth Brown | Producer

Ruth Brown grew up in South Dakota and her first job out of college was covering the South Dakota Legislature. She’s since moved on to Idaho lawmakers. Brown spent 10 years working in print journalism, including newspapers such as the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Press, where she’s covered everything from the correctional system to health care issues. She joined Idaho Reports in 2021 and looks forward to telling stories about how state policy can impact the lives of regular Idahoans.

<strong>Melissa Davlin</strong> | Lead Producer
Melissa Davlin | Lead Producer

Melissa Davlin is the lead producer and host of Idaho Reports. She has covered the Idaho Legislature since 2012. She also produces for Outdoor Idaho and Idaho Public Television. She has won multiple awards for her work, including a regional Emmy for her documentary on Chinese immigration in Idaho, Idaho Press Club broadcast reporter of the year for 2015 and 2019, the Idaho Press Club First Amendment Award, and the 2019 Boise State University Enhancing Public Discourse award. She lives in Boise with her husband and two children. 

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