Gas tax bill moving forward in both chambers

Oil PricesBy Bob Eschliman


The proposed 10-cent increase in motor fuel taxes is moving forward in both chambers. The Senate Transportation Committee approved their version yesterday, and the House Transportation Committee is set to discuss the bill at 3 p.m. today.

The Senate bill – renamed Senate File 257 – was approved on a 9-3 vote. Republicans were split on the bill, 3-3, while Democrats unanimously supported the proposed legislation.

Voting for the bill were state Sens. Tod Bowman (D-Maquoketa, chairman), Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville, vice chairman), Tim Kapuchian (R-Keystone, ranking member), Michael Breitbach (R-Strawberry Point), Dick Dearden (D-Des Moines), Wally Horn (D-Cedar Rapids), Tim Kraayenbrink (R-Fort Dodge), Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines), and Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames). Against were state Sens. Brase, Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), and Smith.

With its approval, Senate File 257 was placed on the calendar. This morning, it was referred to the Ways and Means Committee, which is chaired by state Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City). That committee is not scheduled to meet today.

In the House, where the bill faces a less-certain future, state Rep. Ralph Watts has introduced a bill, HF 224, which would end the exemption for special diesel fuel – fuel used primarily in large engines not on roadways, such as in farming and construction – in the motor fuel tax. Highway construction contractors and Iowa Farm Bureau have been leading proponents for the proposed gas tax hike.