A car is shown at a gas pump, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, at a gas station in North Miami, Fla. Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Alaska state lawmakers are moving to temporarily suspend the state’s motor fuel tax as oil prices rise. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

A car is shown at a gas pump, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, at a gas station in North Miami, Fla. Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Alaska state lawmakers are moving to temporarily suspend the state’s motor fuel tax as oil prices rise. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Lawmakers move to pump the brakes on motor fuel tax

Support for temporary suspension

Alaska lawmakers are moving to temporarily lift the state’s motor fuel tax as the price of gasoline in the state remains high.

On Friday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy asked the Legislature to lift the tax and the Alaska State Senate unanimously passed a nonbinding Sense of the Senate supporting the move.

“Oil prices are at record levels, and, unlike the high oil price environment of 2007-2014, this climb is occurring with concurrent increases in all costs of living,” Dunleavy said in a statement. “The transfer of wealth from Alaskans to the State Treasury must have some equitability restored to it.”

Gubernatorial candidate Les Gara, a former state lawmaker, noted he had called for the suspension of the fuel tax earlier in the week. In a statement, Gara also called on the governor to end the state’s $1.3 billion in tax credits to oil companies.

“Oil companies are making windfall profits from war and a pandemic. This whole campaign we’ve called for an end to these oil company subsidies, and now those subsidies are a war windfall for oil companies,” Gara said.

The tax is currently .08 cents per gallon under state law and hasn’t been updated since 1970, according to state Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, whose bill to raise the motor fuel tax just moved out of the House Finance Committee. Dunleavy sent an amendment to the committee Friday which would suspend the tax until June 30, 2023.

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In an interview with the Empire, Josephson said he supports the governor’s amendment as it has a definite end date. Josephson said he expects the bill to be heard on the House floor this week.

State senators said in their statement they are committed to working with the governor and the House to temporarily suspend the motor fuel tax, but did not indicate how it should be done. The sense was authored by Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, but eventually co-sponsored by all the senators who were present Friday.

According to GasBuddy.com, gas in Juneau is selling for between $3.66 and $4.39 per gallon.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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