With the retail price of gasoline in Maine over $4 per gallon and matching the national average, Republican legislators seek to introduce legislation aimed at reducing the price of fuel.
According to GasBuddy.com, as of March 8, the average retail price of gas in Maine was $4.22 a gallon, the highest price in more than a decade. Maine’s prices are slightly above the national average, which was $4.19 as of March 8.
On March 6, Rep. Laurel Libby (R-Auburn) submitted an after-deadline emergency bill request to suspend Maine’s gas tax through the end of 2022.
“Maine people are struggling to pay for their basic necessities in the face of crippling inflation, and in a rural state like ours, gasoline is absolutely a necessity. We need to provide relief for Maine families now, rather than waiting for the federal government to do so. Suspending Maine’s gas tax will provide immediate relief for families and businesses alike, and is the right thing to do,” Libby said via a press release.
To be introduced during the current legislative session, the request will need a vote of approval from a majority of the Legislative Council. The 10-person council’s next meeting is scheduled for March 24.
Libby is also currently circulating a petition online and asking Mainers to sign “so that we have more leverage to get the bill past the legislative council and have it heard before the full legislature.”
Maine’s gas tax is currently 30 cents per gallon. Libby’s proposed legislation would replace lost revenue with a portion of the General Fund budget surplus, which is now projected to total more than $1.2 billion for the biennium ending in June 2023. According to the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Department of Transportation estimates suspending the gas tax for the remainder of 2022 would cost about $184 million.
Rep. John Andrews (R-Paris) is also planning to introduce a joint resolution calling on Maine’s congressional delegation to urge President Joe Biden’s administration to increase domestic oil production and support policies that make America energy independent.
Andrews’ proposed resolution will also have to receive the approval of the legislative council during its March 24 meeting to be considered by the full legislature.