Is New Hampshire on the road to a usage fee?

When the New Hampshire Legislature returns in January for its new session, lawmakers will be faced with two proposals to introduce a road usage fee to stanch the drain from the highway fund that has risen from dwindling gas tax revenue as fuel economy improves and sales of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles grow.

Like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, Rep. Norm Major, R-Plaistow, has been trying to end the flow. He has spent the last five of his 12 terms in the House championing a road usage fee, or RUF, tied to the fuel economy ratings of light-duty vehicles. In October, the latest version of his bill, House Bill 478, was endorsed by the House Public Works and Highway Committee by a vote of 16-5.