Senate action on comprehensive roads bill continues

Senate action on comprehensive roads bill continues

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Senate Transportation Committee continues to work on their version of a bill that was stopped dead in the Senate last session.

The Senate adjourned around 2 p.m. so members of the Senate Finance Committee could continue their work on fine-tuning the bill, according to a statement from Senate Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman.

"It's clear that passing a comprehensive transportation package is our number one priority in the Senate and in the state," Leatherman said. "We gained significant momentum after yesterday's productive discussion in committee and I want to continue to build upon that today."

The Finance Committee tackled some of the numbers on the amount of gas and diesel fuel purchased in South Carolina--by both in and out-of-state drivers. They talked about impact of tax credits, lower property tax rates on cities, counties and schools -- all elements that have to be considered in finding consensus on a proposal to raise the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon, provide DOT reform and lower other taxes to meet requirements set out by Gov. Nikki Haley in order to get her signature on a roads repair bill.

But there was also discussion on a new option that might alter the state sales tax as an offset to the gas tax hike.

"If we can come together on a different version of tax relief that can generate, I don't know, 18 or 19 strong votes of support in this committee, I personally would be very open to that," Sen. Joel Lourie said.

Earlier in the day, a Senate Transportation subcommittee tossed around ideas on how to reconfigure the selection process for DOT Commissioners as part of the reform plan. The full Transportation Committee had to wait on that subcommittee work and delayed its meeting until Thursday.

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