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Mail Tribune 100, March 30, 1921

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago

March 30, 1921


Rep. Ben Sheldon Speaks at C. of Commerce Forum on Auto Tax Situation — Constitutional Objections Chief Obstacle.

One of the most important subjects to which the late legislature gave attention was thoroughly discussed at today’s Chamber of Commerce forum luncheon, by Representative Ben C. Sheldon who gave a review of the highway work of the session and particularly the new auto license law.

The speaker mentioned the fact that the road program of the state was fast approaching the point where a re-adjustment in the financing thereof would have to be made or the program come to an early stop, so far as large construction work was concerned. He expressed the opinion that whenever the auto owners grew restless under the increasing of fees and the only alternative was shouldering a part of the burden onto general property taxation, the program would come to a halt, for the reason that the taxable property of the state was already bearing all the burden that it could. Hence according to Mr. Sheldon, the importance of adjusting the road building auto tax equitably as between the various makes of machines.

Gas Tax Unconstitutional

Reference was made to Mr. Sheldon’s fight at the last session to get the larger part of the burden put on gasoline, instead of the auto direct, because of the greater equity in using gasoline consumption as a basis of estimating the use of the highways by the various autos. How this plan was beaten by the constitutional objections raised by the attorney general and other lawyers, was fully explained.

A similar objection struck out a clause which Mr. Sheldon had succeeded in inserting in the bill, providing for a reduced fee for the old, used cars. When the basis of the new license fee was changed to one purely of weight of the car, the point was raised that a distinction in the fee charged, based solely on the depreciated value of the car rendered the whole law of questionable legality, and again constitutional limitations defeated what a majority of the members of the legislature wished to write into the law.

— Alissa Corman; acorman@rosebudmedia.com