Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – Alaskans may soon get some relief at the pump, if a bill that has passed the House of Representatives gets traction going forward.
There currently is an 8-cents-per-gallon tax on gas purchased for highway use.
The bill, as originally proposed, would have doubled that. The original bill also called for increasing the surcharge on refined fuels to go toward an account used to address certain hazardous substance spills. A House committee gutted the bill to just deal with the surcharge increase as gas prices this spring rose. The bill was further amended on the House floor to suspend motor fuels taxes until June 30, 2023.
House Bill 104, which would provide the gas-tax holiday, passed Wednesday on a 36-2 vote.
Representative Andy Josephson spoke on the House floor on Wednesday in support of the bill.
“It would suspend the motor fuel tax for a year, and then in July 2023, that tax would come back as it was at eight cents a gallon,” Josephson said.
An increase in the surcharge on refined fuels would help fund the state’s Spill Prevention and Response program.
“The nickel-a-barrel surcharge has been insufficient to fund SPAR,” Josephson said. “The oil industry, at the time the surcharge was created, supported the bill. There is no indication that they wouldn’t support this addendum to the bill. So, we’re just we’re reforming the bill to add a little more to the surcharge. There’s no indication that the oil industry would oppose.
According to Josephson, the Alaska Oil & Gas Association supports the idea of SPAR, saying, “The oil spill funds prevention account are cleaning up things they never created … like a dry cleaning company who leaked fluid fluids into the ground.”
Rep Kevin McCabe said of the bill, “I’m a supporter of being a good steward of our environment of Alaska, frankly, and we will rue the day that we don’t have a proper spill response.”
Rep. Kelly Merrick also supported the bill, saying, “[This] means that Alaskans will pay eight cents less per gallon on a tank of gas, and that’s important during these times of financial hardship for Alaskans. I think that this decrease for a short time will help Alaskans and I think it’s very important to note that this is a tax holiday and it is not a tax increase.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.