Gas tax hikes, new laws in effect

Article Published: Jan. 5, 2012 | Modified: Jan. 5, 2012
Gas tax hikes, new laws in effect

New Year’s Day meant changes for drivers in North Carolina.

Drivers will pay more at the pump in 2012 as the state motor fuels tax grows by 3.9 cents and a federal ethanol tax break worth 4.5 cents a gallon disappears.

State motor fuel tax is adjusted every six months and is representative of wholesale fuel prices.

Today, that means the tax increases to 38.9 cents per gallon, representing an all-time high in North Carolina. The federal tax subsidy on ethanol had been in effect for 30 years prior to Congress halting it — but Congress also ended a tariff of 54 cents per gallon on imported ethanol, a move that could increase imports and lead to a reduction in price for ethanol.

The gas tax funds road and bridge maintenance in North Carolina, as well as new highway construction and other transportation needs.

The N.C. House voted to cap the tax at 35 cents in November, but the Senate adjourned for the holiday without addressing the cap, so the law allowing for the tax hike is still in effect.

In other news, new drivers with limited learner’s permits will be required to show 60 hours of driving time before netting a level two provisional license. This means they’ll have to write down how many hours they spent practicing with an adult driver before they move to the next level of the graduated licensing system.

The new drivers will then have to attain 12 more hours during the next six months to qualify for a full license. The supervising adult will have to sign off on the driving logs.

Additionally, harsher rules will be in place for young drivers found to be driving more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit or if they reach 80 miles per hour or more. Teens could be arrested for those offenses under the law.

Additional new legislation will see criminals convicted of misdemeanors housed in county jails rather than in state prisons. The move is designed to save money and reduce the number of repeat offenders. The new law applies to people sentenced to six months or fewer.

Additional legislation means the secretary of revenue will have fewer powers to make corporations redo their tax returns if those corporations are suspected of dodging taxes.

Another bill that takes effect in January limits people from running on the same general election ballot for more than one office, except to fill a vacancy for the remainder of an unexpired term.

Pseudoephedrine products are the targets of yet another bill going into effect in January. An Act to Increase the Regulation on Pseudophedrine Products is intended to curtail methamphetamine production, reduce costs to local governments for lab cleanup costs and to study the efficacy of electronic record keeping with a report to the 2013 General Assembly.

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