Gas tax supporters optimistic as bill goes to divided House

As she stakes out an agenda for her first full term as governor, one of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey's initiatives is a proposed 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase to fund road and bridge construction. But to be successful, she first must clear attempted roadblocks from some members of her own party.

Posted: Mar 2, 2019 12:25 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — As she stakes out an agenda for her first full term as governor, one of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey's initiatives is a proposed 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase to fund road and bridge construction. But to be successful, she first must clear attempted roadblocks from some members of her own party.
Republican leaders in the GOP-dominated Alabama Legislature lined up in support of Ivey's proposal, and said they are optimistic it will win approval. But the Alabama Republican Party executive committee passed a resolution opposing the increase and some Republican lawmakers say they are opposed.
Ivey pitched the issue as a necessity to address crumbling infrastructure, holding a press conference by an aging rural bridge that local officials say could soon be closed because of safety concerns.
"This is an issue that is felt by every Alabamian," Ivey said.
Rep. Bill Poole, the sponsor of the gas tax legislation, said he is "optimistic we will be able to secure the support that will be necessary to pass it."
"It's a hard issue. It's is going to be a passionate debate. It is perfectly fine for folks to disagree on options, but at the end of the day this is the best option that we have to address this issue in my opinion," Poole said.
The proposed 10-cent gas tax increase would be phased in over three years. The tax would then be indexed to construction costs so it could be adjusted up to a penny every two years without legislative approval. Alabama's current state gas tax of 18 cents a gallon has been unchanged since 1992 and is among the lowest in the nation, according to comparisons from the American Petroleum Institute.
Lawmakers anticipate that Ivey will call a special session to focus attention on the bill and bypass a tough procedural hurdle that requires a three-fifths vote to bring bills up for debate before state budgets in a regular session.
Debate on the bill will begin in the 105-member House of Representatives where lawmakers appear divided.
Rep. Tommy Hanes, a Republican from Bryant, said he will vote no.
"I will be a no simply because working people with families and senior citizens on fixed incomes cannot live with new taxes," Hanes said. Hanes said the people of his district are telling him to vote against the gas tax increase.
Additionally, the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee last week approved a resolution opposing the increase because it would increase people's total tax burden unless there is a tax cut somewhere else. The resolution opposing the gas tax increase passed with 61 percent approval.
The 105-member House has 27 freshmen members. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said during the election that he had counseled Republican candidates that this is an issue they could see in their first session.
McCutcheon expressed optimism about the bill's chances.
"I'm getting responses and they are all positive from the members in the House. They are beginning to study the bill," McCutcheon said.
House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said House Democrats have mixed views.
Daniels said some lawmakers support the tax because of the need to improve local road and bridge conditions, particularly in rural areas. Others are opposed or can't commit until they see the legislation.
"I don't think anybody disagrees that there is a need for infrastructure and support for infrastructure. I don't think anyone is disputing that. There is also a need for Medicaid expansion to save our rural hospitals," Daniels said.
The legislative session begins Tuesday at noon.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 253932

Reported Deaths: 5524
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17120175
Hinds16207322
Harrison13353193
Rankin10689211
Jackson10303183
Lee8796141
Madison8232162
Jones6288110
Forrest5949119
Lauderdale5847180
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Lafayette494292
Lamar484165
Washington4777123
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Panola368378
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Monroe3533105
Warren348498
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Lincoln297085
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Tate270862
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Alcorn263253
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Pike262077
Scott246245
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Leake230564
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Grenada217770
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Marion210672
Adams204670
Winston200164
Wayne199630
George199038
Attala193559
Newton191342
Tishomingo184459
Chickasaw183644
Jasper169735
Holmes168567
Clay159033
Stone142320
Tallahatchie140134
Clarke138660
Calhoun135721
Smith120123
Yalobusha116534
Walthall111836
Noxubee110322
Greene109729
Montgomery109434
Carroll104221
Lawrence102417
Perry101631
Amite97725
Webster92224
Tunica86321
Claiborne86125
Jefferson Davis84125
Humphreys82924
Benton81523
Kemper77120
Quitman6888
Franklin66415
Choctaw60313
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53819
Sharkey42717
Issaquena1596
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 422598

Reported Deaths: 6120
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62039921
Mobile30225548
Madison27052186
Tuscaloosa20728267
Montgomery18978305
Shelby18504114
Baldwin16251182
Lee12465101
Morgan12233113
Etowah11735168
Calhoun11122200
Marshall10191107
Houston8598148
Cullman8023105
Limestone800274
Elmore7836101
DeKalb768397
Lauderdale754683
St. Clair7535120
Talladega6166108
Walker5897174
Jackson580341
Colbert532073
Blount530483
Autauga518455
Coffee441056
Dale396181
Franklin366248
Chilton336165
Russell330310
Covington327268
Escambia316842
Dallas303196
Chambers282769
Clarke281433
Tallapoosa2616107
Pike248729
Marion245650
Lawrence243647
Winston226635
Bibb215147
Geneva201435
Marengo199029
Pickens196531
Hale175842
Barbour172936
Butler169658
Fayette168226
Cherokee160330
Henry153621
Monroe145217
Randolph139835
Washington137626
Clay126145
Crenshaw118744
Lamar118019
Cleburne117423
Macon114735
Lowndes110335
Wilcox103121
Bullock99028
Perry97419
Conecuh94420
Sumter89026
Greene76023
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
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