Despite sputtering in the last legislative session, a hike in the gas tax will get another road test when lawmakers gather in 2014.
The issue will remain as tough a sell next year as it was this year, but it has the support of Republican Sen. Jim Rausch of Salem, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
He wants to tie an increase in the gas tax to the consumer price index (CPI), a measure of inflation.
According to a Union Leader story
, Rausch said the increase would be set in February when the 2013 consumer index is established; he believes it will be slightly more than 4 cents.
Senate President Chuck Morse has said he opposes a gas tax and wants the Department of Transportation to live within its budget.
During the 2013 legislative session, the House Public Works and Highways Committee chairman, Democrat David Campbell of Nashua, proposed a gradual increase in the gas tax, a 15 cents a gallon hike over a five year period. It passed the House but failed in the Senate.
The Executive Council this week signed off on a 10-year plan proposed by DOT Commissioner Chris Clement, but there isn’t enough money to fund all of what Clement has proposed, including open road tolling in Bedford and the continued widening of Interstate 93.
See a Nashua Telegraph story on the transportation plan here
.Bob Smith in Senate run
After saying initially he wasn’t interested, Bob Smith has changed his mind and said he would run to unseat Democrat incumbent Jeanne Shaheen in the U.S. Senate.
Smith, a former U.S.senator, has some company on the Republican side. He joins former state Sen. Jim Rubens and GOP activist Karen Testerman. And there’s Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, who’s been lurking in the background, making the rounds in the state, raising the spectre of a run, but not committing himself to one.
See a Union Leader story here
You can weigh in on the Senate race on our Facebook page
. Other discussion items are there for you as well.Anti-gambling groups re-form
Two anti-casino groups in the state -- Casino Free New Hampshire and the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling -- announced this week a joint effort under the leadership of Steve Duprey and Harold Janeway.
Duprey is a former state chair of the Republican Party; Janeway is a former Democratic state senator.
See a Nashua Telegraph story here
The action comes as a commission is about to announce its proposed laws for a casino and its endorsement of a single casino with 5,000 video slots and 150 table games. See a Seacoast Online story here
.Field set in Executive Council race
The deadline was Monday for nominations to run for the District 1 Executive Council seat left vacant by the death of Ray Burton.
Three Republicans are running for the seat: Mark Aldrich, Chris Boothby and Joe Kenney. They will face off in a Jan. 21 primary. The GOP winner faces Grafton County Commissioner Mike Cryans in the March 11 special election. He was the only Democratic candidate who filed.
The Concord Monitor notes
in a story that the next District 1 councilor won’t be from the North Country as Burton was.
See you next week.