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Maryland House Passes Gas Tax Increase

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House lawmakers voted to raise the state's gas tax for the first time in more than two decades.
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House lawmakers voted to raise the state's gas tax for the first time in more than two decades.

Amid a rare shouting match, the Maryland House of Delegates has approved raising gas taxes in the state to fund new mass transit projects.

House lawmakers voted 78-56 on Friday for the bill, which now moves to the Senate. This will be the first time the gas tax has been raised in over two decades.

After an hour-and-a-half of debate, a vote was taken and the bill passed. But many Republican opponents of the measure claimed the board that records the votes was locked before every delegate had a chance to vote, explain or change their choice.

That led to several shouting matches. Republican Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel County focused his anger at the clerk of the House and Speaker Mike Busch.

The tally slightly changed once the final numbers came in, but the bill was approved.

The per-gallon tax would rise or fall annually with inflation under the bill, and a sales tax on the wholesale price of gas would be phased in, though more slowly than what Gov. Martin O'Malley initially sought.

The measure would apply a 1 percent sales tax in July in addition to the state's 23.5-cents-per-gallon excise tax. The increase would add 3.3 cents to the price of a gallon of gas. There would be another increase of 3.7 cents on Jan. 1, 2015, with another increase in July 2015. The price would rise to about 12 cents by July 2015.

Supporters say the money is needed for the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway in the D.C.-suburbs.

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