Americans For Prosperity-Tennessee (AFP) announced ‘A Day of Action’ in the fight against the gas tax hike in the home district of Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), in order to encourage her to oppose the unpopular measure.
Volunteers will be door-knocking all day Saturday, April 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Belle Meade, Forest Hills and Oak Hill areas of Nashville. Full details are available on AFP’s Facebook page.
The gas tax increase is the more common term applied to Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE Act – recently renamed the “Tax Cut Act of 2017” – which, in its current form, includes a 6 cent per gallon gas tax increase and a 10 ten cent per gallon diesel tax increase. The tax hikes are slated to be phased in over a three-year period to fund the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) list of 962 projects that currently carry a $10.5 billion price tag.
Speaker Harwell has played a key role this session in the advancement of the gas tax through the Tennessee House of Representaives.
At the outset of the current 110th Tennessee General Assembly, she assigned the members and picked the chairmen of the House Committees and Subcommittees including the critical Transportation Committee.
It was Speaker Harwell who picked State Rep. Barry “Boss” Doss (R-Leoma) to chair the Transportation Committee, the first time in his state legislative career he has been the chairman of a committee.
She also designated Speaker Pro Tem Curtis Johnson to break a tie vote in the Transportation Subcommittee that advanced the
IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017′”to the full Transportation Committee. A tie vote would have killed the bill, but the Speaker exercised her authority to designate Johnson as the tie-breaker.
At the time of the tie-breaking maneuver, the
IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” had been amended to incorporate the no-tax-increase Hawk Plan as the funding mechanism for TDOT. The Hawk Plan was promptly stripped from the bill once it got to the full House Transportation Committee.
Speaker Harwell has so far been silent on the violation of House Rules by Chairman Barry Doss (R-Leoma) during the Transportation Committee meeting that advanced the IMPROVE Act or the call by the Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA) for an ethics investigation of Rep. Doss over potential Tennessee Department of Transportation contracts for his business.
After the TRA sent its letter addressed to Speaker Harwell, copying all Republican party members of the State House of Representatives, Rep. Doss presented the ‘Tax Cut Act of 2017’ under House Bill 534 to the Local Government Committee as the sponsor of the bill.
But on Monday, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that “A key state House panel on Wednesday approved an amended version of Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax proposal but the proposal may slam headlong into an alternative no fuel tax-increase plan being encouraged by Republican Speaker Beth Harwell.”
Harwell’s spokeswoman, Kara Owen confirmed Harwell has been talking with Assistant Majority Leader David Hawk, R-Greeneville and two other GOP leaders to “develop an alternative that does not include a gas tax increase.
“The details have not been fully developed yet,” Owen said in an email, “but they are working diligently to offer something. She [Harwell] knows members have a desire to find a solution for our transportation and infrastructure funding, and and is encouraged by that agreement. As Leader Hawk mentioned in committee, an amendment would be ready by next week’s Finance Committee meeting.”
The stage is now set for what could be a potentially dramatic meeting about the future of the
IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” when the House Finance Committee convenes next week, which will give the AFP door knockers even more incentive to present their case to the voters in Speaker Harwell’s district on Saturday.