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15 cent hike in N.H.’s gas tax endorsed by House, 207-163

  • Representative William O'Brien and representatives from Americans for Prosperity speak out against raising the gasoline tax in a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, March 5, 2013. <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Representative William O'Brien and representatives from Americans for Prosperity speak out against raising the gasoline tax in a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Republican Rep. Walter Kolodziej of Windham (top, center) greets Jessica Clark (right) and Alexa Kade (center), who were protesting an abortion bill as he and Democratic Rep. Sylvia Gale of Nashua (left) walked into the State House; Wednesday, March 6, 2013. The bill would establish a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, but a vote was delayed until next week.<br/> <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Republican Rep. Walter Kolodziej of Windham (top, center) greets Jessica Clark (right) and Alexa Kade (center), who were protesting an abortion bill as he and Democratic Rep. Sylvia Gale of Nashua (left) walked into the State House; Wednesday, March 6, 2013. The bill would establish a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, but a vote was delayed until next week.


    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • Eileen Landies of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance greets representatives as she hands out copies of, "The Gold Standard," Wednesday, March 6, 2013. The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance publishes, "The Gold Standard," weekly as a way for them to explain to representatives why they should vote a certain way on bills that the Alliance views to have an impact on liberty.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Eileen Landies of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance greets representatives as she hands out copies of, "The Gold Standard," Wednesday, March 6, 2013. The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance publishes, "The Gold Standard," weekly as a way for them to explain to representatives why they should vote a certain way on bills that the Alliance views to have an impact on liberty.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • Representative William O'Brien and representatives from Americans for Prosperity speak out against raising the gasoline tax in a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, March 5, 2013. <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Republican Rep. Walter Kolodziej of Windham (top, center) greets Jessica Clark (right) and Alexa Kade (center), who were protesting an abortion bill as he and Democratic Rep. Sylvia Gale of Nashua (left) walked into the State House; Wednesday, March 6, 2013. The bill would establish a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, but a vote was delayed until next week.<br/> <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • Eileen Landies of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance greets representatives as she hands out copies of, "The Gold Standard," Wednesday, March 6, 2013. The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance publishes, "The Gold Standard," weekly as a way for them to explain to representatives why they should vote a certain way on bills that the Alliance views to have an impact on liberty.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

The House yesterday endorsed a bill that would increase New Hampshire’s gas tax by 15 cents over the next four years.

After nearly 2½ hours of debate, the Democratic-led House voted to pass the bill, 207-163. Fifteen Republicans and 192 Democrats voted for the bill, while 10 Democrats and 153 Republicans voted against it.

Other than the state budget, the gas tax bill “will be the most important piece of legislation that we pass this year, if not this term,” said Rep. John Cloutier, a Claremont Democrat. “I believe that today is finally the day when this House stands up and says that we’re going to invest in our infrastructure, we’re going to put a halt to the gradual deterioration of our infrastructure and we are going to return to New Hampshire’s traditional, bipartisan policy of caring for its roads and bridges.”

The bill now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee for a second look, since it involves state revenue, and will come back to the House floor for a second vote.

If it passes again, it will go to the Senate, where Republicans hold a 13-11 majority.

“Despite the House’s determination to increase the state’s gas tax, this bill will be dead on arrival when it reaches the Senate,” predicted Sen. Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

During yesterday’s debate, supporters said revenue from an increase in the gas tax, which has stood at 18 cents since 1991, is needed to complete the widening of Interstate 93 in southern New Hampshire and to repair the state’s deteriorating network of roads and bridges.

“New Hampshire does have an infrastructure crisis, and the problem is getting worse and more expensive each year,” said Rep. David Campbell, a Nashua Democrat and the gas tax bill’s sponsor.

He added, “Over the last 22 years, Legislatures have chosen to neglect fixing New Hampshire’s roads and bridges, with opponents each time declaring that the state and its taxpayers could not afford to raise the gas tax. The fact is, we can’t afford not to.”

But Republicans said the 83 percent increase in the gas tax, phased in over four years for gasoline and six years for diesel, would place a heavy burden on residents.

“The party that is supposed to be the champion of the poor seems to be more like champions of making our New Hampshire citizens poor,” said Rep. Leon Rideout, a Lancaster Republican.

Bedford Rep. Laurie Sanborn, the House Republicans’ policy leader, called the tax increase a “stunning overreach of government.”

Sanborn said that “safe roads and bridges are important to the people and the economy of New Hampshire,” but “now is not the time to impose a whopping increase in the price of gasoline, at a time when prices are already soaring, paychecks are smaller, economic growth is anemic and New Hampshire’s middle class and working families are struggling to survive and make ends meet.”

Pre-vote maneuvering

The final vote yesterday came after a series of procedural moves by opponents of the bill.

At the beginning of the day, the House voted to suspend its rules so bills that had been scheduled for last week’s canceled session, including the gas tax bill, could be taken up.

Minority Leader Gene Chandler, a Bartlett Republican, urged members to suspend the rules, calling it “the right and honorable thing to do.” The motion passed on a 321-38 vote.

Later, Rep. Dan Itse, a Fremont Republican, moved to table the gas tax bill without any debate. That motion was defeated, 207-126, with 122 Republicans and four Democrats on the losing side.

Then, Mont Vernon Rep. Bill O’Brien, who was speaker during the last two years of Republican control in the House, attempted to attach an amendment that would ban the state from using money from the state’s highway fund for state troopers and other non-transportation expenses.

That, he said, would free up money for any decaying roads and red-listed bridges.

“Now, we may or may not be in a crisis,” O’Brien said. “There’s some of us that view this concept, this term of ‘red listed bridges,’ as more of a marketing term. . . . But let us assume, let’s assume for the purpose of this exercise, that indeed there is this crisis. This crisis can be addressed by plugging the holes in the leaky bucket that is the highway fund.”

The state Constitution says money in the highway fund “shall be appropriated and used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of public highways within this state,” but also includes “the supervision of traffic thereon.”

The state budget routinely uses highway fund money for the Department of Safety and other agencies.

Hudson Rep. Shawn Jasper, the House Republican whip, called O’Brien’s argument disingenuous.

“Sometimes there are people who only like to read certain parts of the Constitution, and only when it suits them,” Jasper said, adding, “It’s not a leaky bucket. It’s a bucket that we have made allocations from. That is our constitutional duty. That is our constitutional responsibility. And that’s what we should be doing, not hiding behind something like this.”

O’Brien’s amendment was killed on a 251-120 vote. Two Democrats voted with 118 Republicans in favor of the amendment. Chandler and Jasper were among 51 Republicans who voted with 200 Democrats against it.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or
bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

Gas tax roll call

The New Hampshire House yesterday voted, 207-163, to pass a bill that would raise the state’s gas tax by 15 cents over the next four years, from 18 cents to 33 cents per gallon.

The bill must now go to the Ways and Means Committee before coming back to the House floor for a second and final vote. If it passes again, it will go to the Senate.

Here’s how Merrimack County’s representatives voted on the bill, listed alphabetically by last name:

Yes

∎ Rep. Caroletta Alicea, Boscawen Democrat

∎ Rep. Chris Andrews, Bow Democrat

∎ Rep. Christy Bartlett, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Candace Bouchard, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Scott Burns, Franklin Democrat

∎ Rep. Lorrie Carey, Boscawen Democrat

∎ Rep. Clyde Carson, Warner Democrat

∎ Rep. Frank Davis, Pembroke Democrat

∎ Rep. Karen Ebel, New London Democrat

∎ Rep. Mary Frambach, Epsom Democrat

∎ Rep. June Frazer, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Barbara French, Henniker Democrat

∎ Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Paul Henle, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. David Hess, Hooksett Republican

∎ Rep. Geoffrey Hirsch, Bradford Democrat

∎ Rep. Jane Hunt, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. David Karrick, Warner Democrat

∎ Rep. Sally Kelly, Chichester Democrat

∎ Rep. David Kidder, New London Republican

∎ Rep. Priscilla Lockwood, Canterbury Republican

∎ Rep. Jim MacKay, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Howard Moffett, Canterbury Democrat

∎ Rep. Mel Myler, Hopkinton Democrat

∎ Rep. Dick Patten, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Mario Ratzki, Andover Democrat

∎ Rep. Chip Rice, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Gary Richardson, Hopkinton Democrat

∎ Rep. Katherine Rogers, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Thomas Schamberg, Wilmot Democrat

∎ Rep. Dianne Schuett, Pembroke Democrat

∎ Rep. Steve Shurtleff, Penacook Democrat

∎ Rep. Joy Tilton, Northfield Democrat

∎ Rep. Alan Turcotte, Allenstown Democrat

∎ Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Mary Beth Walz, Bow Democrat

∎ Rep. Rick Watrous, Concord Democrat

∎ Rep. Leigh Webb, Franklin Democrat

No

∎ Rep. JR Hoell, Dunbarton Republican

∎ Rep. Carol McGuire, Epsom Republican

∎ Rep. Dan McGuire, Epsom Republican

∎ Rep. Dennis Reed, Franklin Republican

∎ Rep. Todd Smith, Hooksett Republican

∎ Rep. Tom Walsh, Hooksett Republican

Not voting

∎ Rep. Frank Kotowski, Hooksett Republican

Source: N.H. House

Legacy Comments13

Here is the most up to date gas truth that I could find: Forbes, April 2012 Barack Obama: "Oil companies are making more money right now than they've ever made. On top of the money they're getting from you at the gas station, they want some of your tax dollars as well. That doesn’t make any sense. Does it make sense? It's inexcusable. It's time for this oil industry giveaway to end." But Obama failed to mention that from the years 1981-2008, 'Big Oil' also paid $1,000,000,000,000 in sales and excise taxes. That total doesn't take into account the individual oil companies various state and federal income taxes. Despite the clarion call from more than a few politicians for oil companies to 'pay their fair share' due to 'excessive profits,' the Investor's Business Daily is reporting that the oil industry made 6.7¢ profit per dollar of revenue. In its report Motor Fuel Taxes published by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the by-state break down of the combined federal, state and local tax shows that Alaska charges the least at 26.4¢ per gallon, and New York leads the pack at 69.6¢. Overall, we as a nation are sending to the various levels of government an average of 49.5¢ for every gallon purchased. At the current average per gallon of gasoline, oil companies earn about 25¢ profit for every gallon sold, Government tacks on double that amount added for every gallon we pay for gas. As published by the government's US Energy Information Administration, the national average is $3.939 per gallon. And as verified by the non-partisan website PolitiFact.com, on the day Barack Obama was sworn in, gas was $1.79 a gallon" Don't blame oil companies when you don't like the prices, bblame government. NH gas prices will now go up, our legislature will squander that on some "program", make no mistake about that.

Right Itsa and when was the last time Forbes said that any oil company didn't make billions in profit each quarter?

It is seldom worthwhile responding to people who are not able to accept the truth even when faced with it. The bottom line is that for the oil companies to continue to invest and supply energy which no other known source (beyond nuclear) can match the BTU needs of our country, use those profits to reinvest and operate. If you understand economy, if a company makes 25 cents per gallon and the government takes 75 cents per gallon (with no investment or labor involved), then the reason for you paying more is due to the taxes on gas. Forbes is a respected economic publication and what I posted are facts and it is called "reporting" or let's say "real, responsible reporting" which I realize, after you get used to reading government media like the NYT, Washington Post, etc. that the truth is hard to swallow and you folks refuse to do so.

Hey O'Brien ! Why don't you start driving around a stop a few times and look under our bridges. You sir are a fool. I am one of the people who had to repeatedly drive over the bridges that are strung with fishnet and 2x4's to catch falling concrete. Your Teapublican Ideology was thrown out last year because amongst other things you and your toadies lack the understanding that we need a good infrastructure to thrive.

democrats raising taxes is NOT news - it is a ritual and a tradition for them

OK, for those cheering this as if they are cheerleaders at a basketball game, here are the facts..... Oil companies profit about 8 cents per gallon on gas. The federal government profits an average of 59 cents per gallon on gas. Now add this 15 cents of NH tax to that and we have 74 cents. So the next time anyone complains about high gas prices, remember these statistics. Oil Companies 8 cents per gallon Government 74 cents per gallon The government is goughing us, not oil companies

Isn't the federal income tax 18 cents/gal and not 59? Either way, I don't see how the government "profits" when those funds are used to build and maintain our infrastructure. And most of that work is done by private sector companies, not government.

Happy to see the gas tax approved. If you have time this weekend, take a trip north to beautiful Sandwich. Be sure to take Rte. 113 so you can see what residents in the area have to put up with! Damage to private autos and delivery trucks costs much more that the proposed increase in tax. Stop in at the Corner House for brunch on Sunday if you make it that far!

Rep. Jasper was right in calling O'Brien's argument disingenuous but it's not as disingenuous as Rep. Sanborn saying it was "a stunning overreach of government". So now the government is overreaching when it tries to adequately maintain the state's infrastructure? Sanborn says "now is not the time to impose a whopping increase in the price of gasoline". We're talking 15 cents over the course of 4 years. At $4 a gallon, it's 1% a year. That's "whopping"? Then when is the time Ms. Sanborn? It was last raised in 1991 so I guess it wasn't 1992, or 1993 or any other year. And won't be next year or the year after that, will it? Let's just let it all rot away. Good thinking! Nobody uses those roads and bridges and water and sewer systems anyway, right?

There's all the yes names right there. If one of these House members is from your town, write their name down and remember it, come their next election.

For a red badge of courage award.

No, for the "Fools Hall Of Fame."

It takes ZERO courage to raise taxes....it takes courage to tackle a budget to do those things that are mandated by the constitution whit what you have in hand......any fool can raise taxes and run up the peoples credit card

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