The state’s gas tax is likely going up soon. Early this afternoon the Iowa Senate passed a bill that would raise the tax by a dime a gallon then, shortly before two o’clock, the House passed the same bill on a 53-46 vote.
Representative Greg Heartsill, a Republican from Columbia, suggested there was something “suspiciously wrong” with the speed by which the bill passed the legislature and he openly criticized the top Republican in the legislature — House Speaker Kraig Paulsen.
“Because of the way this bill was rammed through, there is now an odiferous cloud that hangs over the legislature that will linger long after this vote. Whose best interests are being served by this legislation?” Hartsill said. “Certainly not those who are paying the bills.”
Representative Josh Byrnes, a Republican from Osage, was an unapologetic supporter of the legislation.
“I honestly feel that we’re doing the right thing today,” Byrnes said shortly before the votes were cast. “This bill is in no way a bill for the lobby. This is in no way a bill for a group. It’s in no way a bill for a party. I honestly feel that this is a bill for Iowans.”
Earlier this month Governor Branstad said he thought “the timing was right” for a gas tax increase.
“The governor will carefully review the bill in its final form before announcing a final decision,” Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers said today.
The governor has three days to make that call once a formal copy of the bill reaches his desk. Legislative staff say the “enrolled” bill should reach Branstad’s desk either this evening or tomorrow morning.
How did your representative vote?
The following REPRESENTATIVES voted YES
The following REPRESENTATIVES voted NO
The only House member who did not vote was Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone. “I refuse to legitimize either the bill or the process with a vote,” Baltimore told reporters this afternoon.
(This post was updated at 2:50 p.m. with additional information.)