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Alaska lawmakers advance bill to increase state’s gas tax

March 18, 2021 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska lawmakers have advanced a bill that would double the state’s gas tax, which is the lowest in the U.S.

The bill passed in the House Transportation Committee in Alaska on Tuesday. The legislation now heads to the finance committee for review.

The bill would double the state’s gas tax to 16 cents per gallon (3.8 liters). Alaska’s current rate of 8 cents per gallon (3.8 liters) has not changed since 1970.

Most of the extra revenue would go for highway maintenance. The bill has wide support among the state’s business and industry groups, which argue that it would help Alaska’s road infrastructure, CoastAlaska reported.

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“I think it’s a reasonable fee to pay given the effect of inflation,” said Anchorage Democratic Rep. Andy Josephson, the measure’s primary sponsor.

The bill would also raise an estimated $3.5 million a year to fight and prevent oil spills.

Some opposed to the legislation said the price hike will hurt residents who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s just disproportional and wrong timing for a discussion like this to be happening,” said Bert Houghtaling of Big Lake.

Mike Coons, Mat-Su chapter president of the conservative advocacy group Association of Mature American Citizens, said he is leading opposition to the proposed bill.

“Sadly, the leftist House will pass this out with full no-votes by our conservative caucus,” Coons said. “I and others will do all we can to kill this in the Senate.”

The bill would raise registration fees for electric vehicles by $100 and for hybrids by $50. It would also rebate the tax hike for marine fuel used on licensed commercial fishing vessels.