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State Rep. sues to stop referendum to raise Missouri’s fuel tax

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove.

A lawsuit has been filed in Jefferson City to stop Missouri voters from going to the polls in November to decide whether to raise the state’s fuel tax.

The proposal is part of a House bill passed on the final day of the 2018 regular session. It would gradually raise Missouri’s fuel tax from 17 cents a gallon to 27 cents by July of 2022.

The original version of the bill would create a tax deduction for Olympic medals won by athletes from Missouri. It was sponsored by Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester.

State Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, is suing the state, saying the bill now violates the State Constitution’s single-subject rule because of the addition of the fuel-tax referendum.

“You’ve got the Olympic athletes, the increase in gas tax, Missouri Highway Patrol funding,” he said. “You’ve got several different subjects.”

Revenue from the fuel tax would go to fund the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s traffic-enforcement efforts. Another provision in the bill would create a new fund to fix so-called “traffic bottlenecks.”

Ronald Calzone, a political activist from Dixon, is also named as plaintiff along with Moon. Defendants named in the lawsuit include Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The suit will be heard by Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green, but a hearing date has not yet been set.

Gov. Mike Parson supports the fuel tax referendum.

"I'm going to be supporting infrastructure in the state of Missouri, and yes, if that's part of the infrastructure plan, then we're going to be supporting infrastructure in the state," he told reporters last month.

In August of 2014, Missouri voters strongly rejected creating a three-quarter-cent sales tax that would have generated more than $5 billion for transportation costs.

Follow Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.