New Hampshire bills would alter fuel tax rate, transportation funding

| 1/28/2008

Many bills of interest to truck drivers are up for consideration in the New Hampshire statehouse. The measures include changes to fuel tax rates and incentives for the use of alternative fuels.

One bill would increase the state’s tax rate applied to fuel purchases by 6 cents. Sponsored by Rep. Frederick King, R-Colebrook, the measure – HB1445 – would increase the per-gallon tax on diesel and gas from 18 cents to 24 cents.

The fiscal analysis for the bill reports the increase would result in an additional $50 million each year for road and bridge work throughout the state. Local communities would get $6 million.

Advocates for higher fuel taxes say changes are needed because New Hampshire doesn’t have enough money rolling in to pay for work included in the state’s 10-year plan.

However, the likelihood of King’s bill being signed into law appears grim. Gov. John Lynch said he would prefer to borrow the money needed for transportation projects.

Another bill also is intended to help generate revenue for transportation. Sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Weyler, R-Kingston, the measure – HB1618 – would route title fees and motor vehicle fees from the state’s general fund into the highway fund.

The fiscal analysis for the bill reports that directing the fees into the highway fund would amount to about $13.3 million for roads and bridges.

A separate effort would prohibit retail sellers of diesel, gas and home heating oil from using fractional-cent pricing. Sponsored by Rep. Gary Daniels, R-Milford, the bill – HB1249 – would require the price of fuel to be rounded up or down to the nearest whole cent.

The bills are in various committees in the House.

Another bill that died in committee would have affected some fuel tax rates. Sponsored by Rep. John Knowles, D-Hudson, the measure – HB1355 – would have exempted alternative and renewable fuels, including biodiesel, from the state’s fuel tax. It required diesel to contain at least 20 percent biodiesel to be eligible for the exemption.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor