After Gov. Haslam ally and gas tax advocate State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) voted “yes” in the House Transportation Subcommittee on Wednesday to send the governor’s IMPROVE Act to the full Transportation Committee which he chairs, The Tennessee Star contacted him and asked three simple, yet key questions pertinent to any further consideration of the gas tax:
- Can you confirm that 25% of Highway Fund user fees go to the general fund?
- Can you confirm that suppliers and retailers of both gas and diesel can hold the tax money anywhere from 20-51 days depending on the month before remitting to state per dept. of revenue fuel tax schedule?”
- Was there any particular reason these important and highly relevant issues were not raised prior to the subcommittee vote today?
Rep. Doss did not respond to The Star prior to our deadline.
As the House Transportation Committee which he chairs now takes the IMPROVE Act under consideration, Rep. Doss has an opportunity to bring the answers to these questions out in the open for public consideration.
The answers to those questions are of great relevance to the public, since “[o]ne of the principles asserted by Governor Haslam in support of his IMPROVE Act and its proposed increase of 7 cents per gallon in the gas tax is that “users” of roads should pay for road construction,” as The Star reported earlier.
The question regarding the 20 to 51 day float on extra gas tax funds held by gas and diesel retailers and suppliers is one that addresses “a possible conflict of interest for the Governor’s fuel tax plan because of his equity holding in his family’s privately held Pilot Flying J, a company that is both a distributor and retailer of gas and diesel fuel,” as The Star reported.
“It is also a question that can be easily and publicly answered should either the House or Senate Transportation Committees invite representatives from both the Tennessee Department of Revenue and Pilot to answer in public testimony,” The Star noted.
Since his election to the Tennessee General Assembly in 2013, Doss, who owns and operates the Doss Brothers, Inc. construction company, has been an avid supporter of the Tennessee County Highway Officials Association, an organization that will benefit from the extra road construction funding the IMPROVE Act promises.
In fact, in July 2016, Doss posted a summary of what he referred to as “[a] great article written about the progression of our roads, in not only Giles and Lawrence County, but all our counties in the great state of Tennesssee,” on his Facebook page, which said, in part:
Tennessee County Highway Officials Association members honored Doss for securing support for the appropriation from Governor Bill Haslam, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, and 89 other co-sponsors. That successful campaign gave every county highway department three times their usual share of state-aid road appropriations this budget year, totaling $42 million.
TCHOA Executive Director J. Rodney Carmical praised Doss and Senate sponsor Jim Tracy at the association’s June 21 meeting in Franklin, attended by county highway officials and their staff. . . .
As its share of the $42 million, Giles County received $434,000 in addition to the $196,000 it receives annually. Monies must be spent on state-aid roads, which are county roads that connect to existing state roads.
“Predictions that Tennessee’s economy will continue to grow in the same fashion that brought in $800 million in extra revenues last year make him believe that’s a real possibility. State Representative Barry Doss has been dubbed ‘the $42 Million Dollar Man,’ ” the article concluded.