Opening a late session controversy, a House panel Tuesday narrowly approved a bill that would raise Louisiana's gasoline tax by 17 cents per gallon, increasing state aid for roads and bridges by $510 million annually.
"It is time to act," Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, told the Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee.
The committee approved the bill 9-7 after three hours of debate in a jammed committee room, with an unusual coalition of five Democrats and four Republicans teaming up to endorse the measure. The winning side included three GOP members from the always congested Baton Rouge area, a sign that geography can trump political party.
Motorists pay 38.4 cents per gallon now, including 20 cents in state charges.
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