The Toll Road Tax Surprise Bill

What would happen if you woke up one morning and found the major road you drive on in your city or county became a toll road? Or your county or city is falling short on its projected budgetary dreams as they proceed to build utopia?

The simple solution to make up for any government shortfall is to add a new fee in the form of a toll road. Presto. Your budget is balanced and even carries a surplus for every year thereafter, forever!

That could become a reality if Senate Bill 1022 is passed, possibly as soon as this week. The bill, which already passed the Senate 19 to 9, ran through and passed the House Transportation committee Wednesday without opposition. It could be voted on the House floor this week.

The bill was actually introduced by the Dept. of Transportation (ODOT), as a so-called “agency bill.” These kinds of bills allow the bureaucracy to bypass normal legislative channels (such as having a constitutionally elected member of the legislative branch such as a representative or senator introduce a bill. But that’s another story.)

With the introduction of modern technologies, tolling roads are becoming more commonplace as a transponder in the vehicle is scanned by an overhead receiver, such as products scanned at a grocery store checkout line. This bill enables the state or local governments to collect tolls through electronic means for the first time, making a whole new class of feeing into a feasible reality. (The local authority to toll already exists, but is impractical to implement with employees and booths necessary.)

The tolling system would allow autos to be scanned while in motion. In a dream scenario for a government bureaucrat, there could be a direct link to your bank account so with each passing through, your funds are automatically debited. Such was one scenario for the entire Newberg and Dundee areas that was being seriously discussed recently for the planned ODOT boondoggle of a toll road there.

In addition to the regular new fee/tax, the fines and sanctions for disobeying the tolls in SB 1022 are onerous. Twenty-five dollar fine per occurrence. Failure to renew license for outstanding fines. Other penalties to be established.

There’s also exemption for government cars. Photo enforcement is used to enforce. Then, there’s the cost of buying a transponder for each motorist. And, what about those from out of town or out of the country? What if your vehicle’s transponder fails to work? If George Orwell were alive to watch ODOT in action today, he’d probably just shake his head. 1984 has just been delayed a few years at ODOT.

ODOT’s budget is about $3.2 billion this biennium. Yet, the lack of ability to produce major improvements with more money then the agency knows what to do with is becoming legendary.

Please contact your local House members, both Republicans and Democrats and let them know this is the equivalent of them voting for establishing a sales tax. This is one bill which has bipartisan support and opposition both.

You can use the handy email form at to contact every Senator and/or every Representative all at once through email.

Note: You can watch all hearings and floor sessions by going to and clicking on the room where the hearing is to be held. Find hearing schedules, read bills at