OKLAHOMA CITY Making a move to help keep a one-cent gas tax bill that would fund the future of high speed rail for Oklahoma alive, Senator Dave Herbert is shifting the legislation to a different committee.
According to the Midwest City legislator, Senate Joint Resolution 4 will move out of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee when the gas tax language is changed into a new piece of legislation. The new legislation will becomes SJR 36 and will be moved to the House Rules Committee where Herbert has been assured a hearing next week.
"The motivation behind this move is simple," said Herbert. "By moving the gas tax language to a new piece of legislation and into a different committee, the bill has a better chance of passing."
Herbert is pushing for a statewide vote on the proposed one-cent per gallon gasoline tax increase, with the proceeds earmarked for rail service expansion. Voters would be asked to decide if they want to approve the fuel hike for a 10-year period. He has introduced similar legislation in previous years, only to have the measure stall in committee.
"We are in a precarious situation in Oklahoma and if we don't find a way to latch onto the high-speed corridors linking the nation from coast to coast, we'll be left sitting in dust while other states enjoy the economic benefits of high speed rail travel," said Herbert. "I like the idea of letting the public vote on what they want the future of travel to look like in Oklahoma. If the success of the Heartland Flyer is any indication, I'm confident this legislation will have a significant amount of support."
According to Senator Herbert's figures, a one-cent tax per gallon would cost the average driver $5.00 a year.
"A penny is a very small price to pay when the return is so significant," said the Senator. "Oklahoma stands to gain so much from high speed rail travel, with economic and tourism benefits topping the list."