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Franchot calls for a special session on the gas tax

A man pumps gas into his vehicle at a gas station in Monterey Park, Calif., on Oct. 5, 2012.
Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images
A man pumps gas into his vehicle at a gas station in Monterey Park, Calif., on Oct. 5, 2012.

State Comptroller Peter Franchot fired another salvo in the state gas tax wars Tuesday.

He urged the governor and presiding officers of the General Assembly to call a special session to give him the power to waive the increase set to go into effect July 1.

This comes the day after Gov. Larry Hogan urged Franchot in a letter to “halt or minimize” the effect of the increase from 36 cents to nearly 43 cents per gallon. But Franchot doesn’t have the power to do that. Under Maryland law, the gas tax is tied to the rate of inflation.

Franchot spokeswoman Susan O’Brien said there is “no provision that allows the Comptroller to unilaterally halt or suspend the automatic increase.”

Delaying motor fuel tax returns wouldn’t help Marylanders “who are suffering at the pump,” she added. “It would only help Big Oil delay their tax payments.”

Monday, Franchot called on Hogan to declare a state of emergency under his powers as governor and block the tax increase. But Hogan’s office pointed to a section of state law that allows the governor to declare an “energy emergency,” but says nothing about taxes.

Franchot said Tuesday he and Hogan agree the increase should be halted but that it’s up to the governor to do something.

“He should call the legislature back for a special session. And we can explain to everybody why this is a particularly bad idea for the state's economy,” the comptroller said.

Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci called Franchot’s move “flailing” in a statement and said the governor looks forward “to hearing his plan to help minimize the impact of this tax increase.”

Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.
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