Effort underway to repeal Missouri fuel tax increase

December 6, 2021

Keith Goble

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A little more than two months after the state of Missouri began collecting more fuel tax, a legislative effort at the statehouse would nix the increase.

Earlier this year, the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly approved a bill to raise the 17-cent fuel tax rate by 12.5 cents over five years. Republican Gov. Mike Parson later signed into law SB262 to increase the state’s fuel tax for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Since Oct. 1, the state has collected 19.5 cents per gallon on fuel purchases. The tax rate will climb to 29.5 cents by July 1, 2025.

Included in the new law is an option for most Missouri residents to apply for an exemption and refund for the additional tax collected. The option is available to residents fueling vehicles with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 26,000 pounds.

Repeal pursuit

Despite the new law’s nod toward many residents, the tax increase continues to not sit well with some state legislators.

Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, and Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, were among the state lawmakers to oppose SB262. Both have filed legislation for consideration during the upcoming regular session to repeal the tax increase.

The main point of contention for opponents of the increase is whether legislators worked around the Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution. The amendment mandates that any proposed tax rate increase above a certain amount must go before voters.

Critics have said that by phasing in the tax increase SB262 circumvented the requirement for a public vote.

“I was opposed to the fuel tax increase because it silenced the voice of the people on an issue where they should have been heard,” Walsh said in a news release. “The legislature moved forward with a plan that increase the tax burden on Missourians who can’t afford it, and I think it’s clear this increase never would have passed if the people had been allowed to vote.”

Bill advocates have countered that SB262 ensures the Hancock Amendment requirement is met.

Billions available for transportation

State officials report the state has from $8 billion to $10 billion in unfunded needs for the transportation system.

The additional fuel tax revenue from SB262 is estimated to raise $455 million annually.

Walsh points out that federal dollars for transportation purposes are coming to Missouri. Additionally, she says the state has billions of dollars in surplus revenue that could be used for transportation uses.

“It is an outrage that Missourians are being asked to pay more at a time when the state has an $8 billion surplus,” Walsh stated.

Her bill, HB1594, and Moon’s bill, SB782, can be considered during the session that begins Jan. 5. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Missouri.

 

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.