Job Incentive And Gas Tax Bills Make It Out Of Committees Alive

Mar 4, 2015

House lawmakers were busy on Tuesday, approving two measures in committee, while blocking a proposal by a leading Republican.
Credit Jorge Valencia

State legislators sparred over job incentives and a change to the gas tax during finance and appropriation committees meetings Tuesday. The bills eventually made it out.

There was opposition from both liberals and some conservatives over the tax breaks designed to lure jobs.

Secretary of Commerce John Skvarla told one committee nobody likes incentives, but that the state must be competitive. The Governor has been pushing for extended and expanded incentives.

Meanwhile, it was the first crack for house lawmakers at the gas tax bill, introduced in the Senate. They are proposing to hold off on 500 layoffs in the Department of Transportation. Under the Senate's measure those would have taken effect immediately. The full House is expected to vote on both bills this week.

Also at the legislature, Republican Majority Leader, Mike Hager had a last-minute amendment blocked by colleagues on Tuesday. Hager added the amendment to a spending bill late Monday, describing it as nothing more than a technicality; It passed by more than 100 votes.

But by Tuesday afternoon environmental groups were upset. That amendment would have eliminated regulations for toxic air emissions during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. On the floor Lawmakers from both parties criticized the majority leader's proposal.

"This is in no way germane to anything else in this bill," said Republican Chuck McGrady.

The amendment was then reconsidered, voted down by more than 30 votes, and the bill was sent back to the Senate without any provisions on fracking.