Georgia House panel backs state gas tax suspension

The Georgia House's Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously Thursday to suspend the state's 29.1 cents-a-gallon motor fuel tax through May 31. Prices for gasoline have surged following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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The Georgia House's Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously Thursday to suspend the state's 29.1 cents-a-gallon motor fuel tax through May 31. Prices for gasoline have surged following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A key Georgia House committee backed a measure Thursday to suspend state fuel taxes as metro Atlanta gas prices reach record highs.

The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously supported the plan that would suspend the 29.1 cents-a-gallon motor fuel tax through May 31. Based on previous years’ collections, the move would save drivers about $400 million in taxes.

The Georgia House will vote on House Bill 304 in the coming days.

While the suspension would go into effect on the signature of Gov. Brian Kemp, it wouldn’t be felt immediately throughout the state since stores would be selling gas they received prior to the suspension and paid taxes on. Committee members said it would take some time for the untaxed gas to make its way into the pipeline.

Nonetheless, lawmakers said it’s an important step to help consumers.

“Hardworking Georgians are feeling the pressure at the pump,” said Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming, one of Kemp’s floor leaders. “Georgia has suspended the gas tax in the past, and it is critical we do it again.”

HB 304 will have to move fast, since legislation in most cases has to pass at least one chamber by Crossover Day on Tuesday to remain alive for the session.

Politicians in both parties have staked their positions to suspend gas taxes at both the state and federal level as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seems certain to send gas prices to new heights. President Joe Biden on Tuesday banned imports of Russian oil, gas and coal to punish dictator Vladimir Putin’s “vicious war of choice,” a decision that roiled the energy market.

The average price of a gallon of regular fuel in metro Atlanta reached $4.27 on Wednesday, higher than the crest reached in the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to GasBuddy, a fuel-tracking service.

Motor fuel funding pays for road and bridge projects. The governor’s office said state surplus funds would be used to make up for the lost gas tax money. The state ran a $3.7 billion surplus in fiscal 2021, in part because the economy was aided by billions of dollars worth of federal COVID-19 relief funding.