Friday, May 26, 2006

Gas Tax Cap & Consumer Protections Against

House Representatives Lorene Coates (D-Rowan), Pryor Gibson (D-Anson), Bruce Goforth (D-Buncombe), Alice Graham Underhill (D-Craven), and other House members held a press conference on Tuesday to announce the introduction of legislation that would cap the state’s gas tax at its current rate and provide additional consumer protections against price gouging. House Bill 2384 will be debated by the House Finance Committee in coming weeks.

Currently, the motor fuels tax in North Carolina has two parts: a flat tax and a variable tax that is adjusted two times a year based on the average wholesale price of gas. Since 1992, North Carolina law automatically increases the state’s gas tax when there is a substantial increase in the cost of fuel. With this proposed legislative cap, the rate could decrease but it will not go above current levels.

The bill also would expand the attorney general’s authority to examine whether a gas station has intentionally charged high prices. Current law allows those probes in times of disaster. The proposed change would make it easier to examine price gouging when the economic well-being of the public is being affected.

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