Missouri Senate backs compromise on gas tax hike bill

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri senators on Wednesday gave initial approval to a gas tax hike, despite Republican division over tax increases.

The bill would raise Missouri’s current gas tax of 17 cents per gallon for the first time in two decades.

It stalled Tuesday after hours of Republican infighting, but a compromise that lowered the amount of the increase from 15 cents to 12.5 cents per gallon over five years passed in a voice vote on Wednesday. Drivers could get a rebate for the tax hike if they keep their gas receipts.

When fully implemented, Missouri’s gas tax would be 29.5 cents per gallon.

The measure also would increase electric vehicle fees by 20% over five years. Fees vary depending on the size of electric vehicles.

Another provision of the bill would ban people from working as commercial drivers if they are caught using trucks or other vehicles to traffic humans.

The compromise came two days after the Senate rejected a bill that gradually would have eliminated the personal property tax on items such as cars, boats and machinery, The Kansas City Star reported.

Opponents raised concerns that eliminating the personal property tax would have harmed local governments, which use the revenue to fund services such as police.

Sen. Bill Eigel, a Weldon Springs Republican and who sponsored the bill, said the lost revenue could be replaced with inflation-driven increases to real estate taxes. But only 13 Republican Senators voted for the measure.

Eigel and others responded Tuesday by stalling debate on the gas tax bill.

The gas tax bill would need another vote of approval in the Senate before it could go to the House for consideration.

Also Tuesday, the House gave initial approval to a bill that would tax out-of-state purchases. It would need to pass another House vote before going to the Senate. Missouri is one of only two states in the country that doesn’t tax such purchases.

Supporters say it would even the playing field for in-state retailers, but some Republicans have opposed any hike in taxes without a corresponding decrease elsewhere in state revenue.

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