Columbia, SC (WLTX) – While there is still a long road ahead for the H. 3516, or the roads bill, lawmakers have agreed that a road user fee for hybrid drivers and alternative fuel vehicles will be in the finished product.
"Everybody has rubber on the road and everybody has to help pay for it," says Representative Gary Simrill, (R) House Majority Leader.
The fee could be up to $120 every two years for drivers. That fee was agreed upon and will be in the final bill.
What lawmakers are trying to iron out are the rest of the components.
"We had to have some compromises and these were part of those compromises,” says Senator Vincent Sheheen, (D) Kershaw County.
On one hand, the House's version includes a 10-cent gas tax increase over the next five years, a trust fund for the State Department of Transportation and changes to the way SCDOT commissioners are appointed by the Governor.
The Senate's version, includes a 12-cent gas tax increase over the next six years, adds an additional SCDOT commissioner to be appointed or removed by the Governor, and a gas tax rebate, that gives South Carolina drivers the ability to get back what they gave in the gas tax increase.
Rep. Simrill says that rebate will take away from money going to roads.
"I mean, our goal here is a roads bill to fix and repair South Carolina highways,” he says. “What we do not need is a diversion from that, or to take funding that would be used for roads and have them allocated somewhere else."
The gas tax rebate was originally introduced by Sen. Larry Grooms.
While he is not on the conference committee, he gave remarks on why it's necessary for the final bill.
"It's critical for the bill to become law,” he says. “If we want a product that satisfies the House and doesn't become law, then let's not have any tax relief. If you want a worked product that becomes law, that provides tax relief, that provides funding for our roads then there has to be some give and take."
The committee wrapped up early on Thursday, but could take several hours to iron out differences when they meet on Friday morning at 9 am.
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