COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There were major developments inside of the State House Wednesday night in the ongoing debate over raising the gas tax to fix roads. A bill has passed a second reading by the SC Senate late Wednesday evening that would raise the state's gas tax to pay for road repairs.
In an overwhelming vote earlier in the evening, senators again changed the bill that raises the tax. This latest change was made in a 36 to 8 vote and that was exciting for several inside the chamber late Wednesday. The Senate will take a third vote Thursday.
It adds some reform to the Department of Transportation some lawmakers were pushing— adding another commission member to the agency and allowing for the governor to be able to remove any member, at-will.
So the bill now includes that change, plus the gas tax hike of 12-cents-per-gallon after six years, and tax credits to feature a rebate for in-state drivers, income tax credits for some, certain property tax reductions, and more tax credits for college students.
But the margin of that recent vote 36 to 8, has some senators relieved that this could be the year to get the roads fix bill passed.
"I think it puts it on a much better path to success. I think that many of us were just thrilled that the Senate after all these years is finally having the debate," Sen. Thomas McElveen (D-Sumter) said. "Well, the mood is one of relief, because I know that in my caucus and me personally, we have all been strong advocates of putting a plan together that would truly fix our roads for the next generation. And this is the first time since I've been here where the Senate is going to go home and say we've passed a roads bill."
Senator Tom Davis filibustered bills like this before. We aren't sure if that's his plan now. But the Senate does have the option of voting to stop him.