Calls for action on Maryland’s gas tax accelerate

In the second day of dueling suggestions to deal with a jump in Maryland’s gas tax, Comptroller Peter Franchot urged state leaders to call a special session in Annapolis.

Hours later, the Maryland House Republican Caucus issued its own call for lawmakers to return to Annapolis for a one- or two-day session to deal with the escalation in the state’s tax on motor fuel.

Franchot, a Democrat running for governor, wrote a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones suggesting that lawmakers hold a special session before June 1.

Franchot wrote that if he were granted legislative authority, he would temporarily suspend the state law that triggers the gas tax increase for a period of one fiscal year.

Franchot also suggested a four-month “gas tax holiday” to “provide immediate relief” from the tax.

“Well, the governor and I both agree on the substance, that this is a very delicate time for the state’s economy,” Franchot said.

Currently, the state’s gas tax is just below 37 cents a gallon. Once the increase goes into effect, the gas tax would bump up to just under 44 cents a gallon. The 2013 law that mandated the tax increase is tied to inflation. When there is no increase in the consumer price index, the state’s gas tax rate holds steady.

Franchot was a critic of the bill that created the automatic tax increase.

In March, Franchot advocated for a 90-day gas tax break — lawmakers OK’d a 30-day tax holiday and rejected Republican efforts in the Maryland State House to extend the respite from the tax increase.

The state’s House Republican Caucus also called for a special session.

“We think we should have a very limited-one, two-day special session directed solely” to suspending the gas tax for 90 days, House Minority Leader Jason Buckel said.

On Monday, Hogan urged Franchot to act on the gas tax increase, stating that as comptroller, he could grant an extension on the payment of the gas tax and remove penalties for the unpaid tax.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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