Missouri measure would create fuel tax holiday

| 5/1/2008

With the end of the legislative session in Missouri fast approaching, a bill nearing passage in the House would temporarily discontinue the state’s fuel tax this summer.

House lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill – HB1644 – after adding a provision that would offer consumers a three-month price break on gas and diesel purchases for personal vehicles. The provision was added to a bill that would phase out the state corporate income tax by 2013.

Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, amended the bill to authorize a fuel tax holiday from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Consumers would continue to pay the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon tax on gas and diesel but they could petition the state for reimbursement.

Lembke made the change to the legislation while talks nationally are focusing on a potential federal fuel tax holiday. President George W. Bush is considering asking Congress to suspend collections of the federal tax on gas and diesel.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama is opposed to such a plan. He dubbed it a “short term, quick fix.” Democratic contender Sen. Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Sen. John McCann have both already called for the holiday.

Advocates for the price break in Missouri from May 24 through Sept. 2 say it would help consumers cope with fuel costs that continue to escalate. Opponents are concerned about reports the tax holiday would cost the state $120 million.

The bill needs one more vote on the House floor before advancing to the Senate. With the regular session scheduled to end May 16, time is running out for the measure to advance to the governor’s desk.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor