Hawaii may soon become the latest state to jump on the e-bike rebate trend, following a 2020 pilot program done in Denver that spurred some cities and states to try to emulate its success

On Wednesday, the House advanced a bill that would grant all individuals over the age of 16 up to $500 of financial assistance for their purchase of an e-bike, electric moped or other micromobility device.

Sound familiar? That’s because a version of this already became law in 2022.

Originally enacted last year as the electric bicycle and electric moped rebate program, this new program – rebranded as the electric mobility rebate program – would repeal the old one and vastly expand who’s eligible to receive rebates. 

Last year’s bill cited climate change and the high cost of transportation as key factors behind its introduction of e-bike subsidies. 

Previously, eligible individuals only included those without a car who were over the age of 18 and eligible for low income assistance programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the free and reduced lunch program, or Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937. 

Now, anybody over the age of 16 would qualify each fiscal year for the base rebate of $500 or 40% of the cost, whichever is lower. Individuals eligible for low income assistance programs would be qualified for an additional $500 of assistance. 

E-bikes and electric mopeds wouldn’t be the only rides available for beneficiaries. Other forms of transport include those in the category of micromobility devices, encompassing things like electric skateboards and electric scooters.

Another change from last year’s bill is the source of funding. 

Act 306, from 2022, stipulated that funds would come from a sub-account within the highway special development fund. That proved to be an issue for Department of Transportation officials who then realized that the bill did not provide expenditure authority of these funds for the intended rebate program, according to testimony

This year’s bill would establish the electric mobility special fund in the state treasury, which the DOT would then administer.

SB809, introduced by Sen. Chris Lee, cleared its originating chamber last week and must now make its way through the House. It passed its first reading on Wednesday and is awaiting its committee referrals.

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