One of the new ideas to come out of Lansing is sure to make state government more expensive by increasing the cost of the state vehicle fleet. House Bill 5042 introduced by Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-Salem, requires that all future new light trucks purchased by the state be alternative energy vehicles. Existing state owned trucks for the model year 2007 and newer are to be retrofitted to achieve greater fuel efficiency or converted to alternative fuels if it can be done cost effectively. In addition, the legislation requires that 50 percent or more of new vehicles purchased by the state for passenger transport be alternative fuel vehicles.

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The last thing the state of Michigan needs is to increase the cost of government at a time when Michigan residents are being told they can expect less government services while at the same time they are being threatened with higher taxes. It borders on unconscionable that legislators would press their costly environmental ideology on a state saddled with the nation's highest unemployment rate.

There is a good reason why alternative energy vehicles make up such a small percentage of new vehicle sales - at anywhere near current fuel prices the payoff is simply not there. The reality is that in the future state government employees will be required to do more with less. A vision of government employees driving around searching for a compressed natural gas filling station or waiting for their electric vehicle to recharge does not inspire confidence in efficient government.

It is ironic that Rep. Smith, who voted in 2007 to expand tax breaks for producers of ethanol, is now sponsoring legislation that contains language that specifically favors other alternative energy over E-85. Legislators who thought they could plan Michigan's energy future in 2007 by subsidizing ethanol got it wrong. Let's hope they will abandon central planning and let the energy markets work rather than repeating their misguided efforts.