MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s proposed 10-cent gasoline tax increase cleared its first committee obstacle Thursday, but now heads to the full House of Representatives where it faces a more difficult road.
The House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee approved the legislation on a voice vote after a two-hour public hearing. The full House is expected to debate the legislation Friday.
Rep. Bill Poole, who is sponsoring the legislation, told committee members that Alabama’s current 18-cent gas tax has been unchanged since 1992, leaving the state without adequate funds to replace aging bridges and improve congested and dangerous roads.
“The cost of doing nothing is significant. It’s very significant. It will cost us lives. It will cost us jobs,” Poole, R-Tuscaloosa said.
Ivey is proposing a 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase to fund road and bridge construction. The increase would be phased in over three years. The measure would also place an annual fee of $200 on electric vehicle and $100 on hybrid vehicles.
Poole said he was optimistic as the bill heads to a House vote.
“I believe it is just essential we address this issue for the state of Alabama in a responsible and fair way, and we’ll find out tomorrow,” Poole said Thursday.
However, some committee members said they were undecided how they would vote when the bill comes to the floor.
“Right now, I’m on the fence because I worry about our people without steady incomes. I worry about our less fortunate,” said Rep. Rolanda Hollis, a Democrat from Birmingham.
Hollis said a state lottery would be an alternate means of generating revenue. She also argued the state needs to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.
Ivey called lawmakers into a special session that began Wednesday focused on the gasoline tax and related legislation.