Motor fuel tax suspension fails, but Grain Belt language and removal of CWIP protections pass House
Updated: Apr 27, 2022
April 27, 2022 - The Missouri House considered an amendment by Rep. Sara Walsh to suspend the motor fuel tax increase we achieved last year to provide road funding if gas prices average more than $3.50 per gallon on August 1st of that year. If suspended, the increased tax would not be collected for two years. The amendment was proposed on SB 820 sponsored by Sen. Eric Burlison that originally dealt with solar panels.
"Legislators appear to believe that reducing the gas taxes would reduce the price at the pump for consumers, but there is no guarantee that would happen," said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. "In fact, fuel taxes are paid when the fuel is placed into tanker trucks and may be passed on to retailers, but there is no guarantee reducing the tax will reduce the market price of the fuel. We do know the amendment would decimate our ability to fund road improvements and match federal funds. We are opposed to suspending the fuel taxes because Missouri businesses need good roads for movement of people and goods and the economic health of our state."
The fuel tax suspension amendment failed on a roll call vote 55-61. See vote HERE.
The fuel tax suspension language would have been added to another amendment (House Amendment 3) by Rep. Mike Haffner that would attempt to prevent the use of eminent domain unless a project is providing more than 50% of the power it would carry to Missouri customers among other restrictions. This language is intended to retroactively stop the Grain Belt line by prohibiting the use of eminent domain for that project although it has already received approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission. The Missouri Constitution prohibits retroactive laws. The U.S. Constitution also requires equal treatment under the law. This amendment would not apply to rural electric cooperatives, but would apply to "merchant lines." The amendment could also violate the Commerce Clause of that Constitution if applied to Grain Belt because the line crosses multiple states and is the very definition of interstate commerce.
"Associated Industries of Missouri opposes this amendment that would attempt to block the building of the Grain Belt wind power DC line that will help provide additional clean energy at low cost to individuals and businesses in 39 Missouri cities," said McCarty. "We oppose this attempt to change the rules in the middle of the game for this company that has done everything the government has asked them to do."
The eminent domain amendment passed 98-39 on a roll call vote. See vote HERE.
Also, Rep. John Black added House Amendment 11 to the bill that eliminates the protections against utility companies recovering costs of utility projects before such projects are placed in service (see article with more details HERE). AIM also opposes this language.
The amendments were proposed to a bill dealing with solar panels. The bill was ultimately passed and returned to the Senate for adoption or further consideration. AIM will work to remove the objectionable parts of this bill and keep you posted.