Democratic, Republican lawmakers in Md. call for new gas tax holiday

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot calls for a gas tax holiday. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

As gas prices remain high in the area, Maryland lawmakers from both parties made separate calls on Monday to bring back the state’s gas tax holiday.

At an event held at a gas station in Hyattsville, Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat running for governor, called for a special session of the legislature to delay a seven-cent gas tax increase scheduled to go into effect on July 1.

Lisa Magruder, a resident who spoke at the event, said she drives for a food delivery service as a side hustle to her full-time job in order to make ends meet. “To some, the gas tax is something small. But to us, it makes a big difference,” she said.

“Half of our earnings go back to gas,” Magruder added. “And we’re right back where we started.”

The gas tax increase set to go into effect is an automatic one tied to the rate of inflation. It was passed by Maryland lawmakers in 2013.

In his remarks, Franchot called for a full gas-tax holiday that suspends the state tax altogether.

“We’re definitely going to have at least a mild recession,” said Franchot. “But we have a solution to that. It’s called a gas tax holiday.”

The legislature had previously passed a gas tax holiday, which was in effect from March 18 to April 16.

Franchot said a new tax holiday would be a bipartisan solution, citing the support of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and President Joe Biden, who has called for a federal gas tax holiday in addition to states to suspending their own gas taxes.

“But the national Democrats in Congress are saying, ‘No; we’re not going to do it,'” said Franchot. “Here in Maryland, they’re doing the same thing … But they are going to do it, because it needs to be done.”

Franchot has asked for the new gas tax holiday to last three months.

Meanwhile, Maryland Republicans made similar calls in Baltimore County on Monday. Their proposal, however, calls for a gas tax holiday that would run until the end of 2022.

“We’re urging lawmakers to do this,” said Del. Kathy Szeliga of the 7th District. “We know that they could come back for a special session to do it in one day.”

“This will bring immediate relief to families. Hopefully, Washington, D.C., can figure it out and really bring down the price of energy altogether,” she added.

Szeliga said the holiday would cost the state about $1 billion, but pointed to Maryland’s projected state surplus of more than $7.5 billion as a way to fund it.

In response to those who say price gouging by fossil fuel companies is a major cause for high gas prices, Szeliga said, “You know who’s price gouging? The government when they charge drivers 61 cents a gallon.” That figure includes both federal and Maryland taxes if the scheduled July 1 increase goes into effect.

Senate President Bill Ferguson and Speaker Adrienne Jones released a joint statement on Twitter last week that said, “States cannot unilaterally bear the burden of increased gas prices driven in part by Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and in part by the corporate greed of oil companies bringing in record profits.”

At present, there are no plans to call the state legislature back for a special session.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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