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Steve Winter
State Representative
District 3

May 8, 2011
"5¢ Gas Tax Reduction"

Steven Winter represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton, Merrimack District 3, in the NH House of Representatives.

Representative Winter is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration  Committee, The Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR).

"Your representative owes you not his industry only, but his judgment…" – Edmund Burke, speech to the electors of Bristol, England

As a Representative, I receive loads of emails and letters. It is not possible to answer all of them but I have always tried to answer mail from my direct constituents.

This last week, I received an email from a lady in Sutton. She had issues with a couple of bills before the House. Due to space constraints, I will focus on her first issue, the 5¢ gas tax reduction which she opposed. The following approximates my response to this constituent:

Thank you for your message... 

Regarding the 5¢ gas tax reduction proposal for Senate Bill 78, I voted to oppose it.  The original plan from the Senate was to cancel the final two months of the "temporary" vehicle registration surcharge of $30 (or $45 or more if it were a truck). I put "temporary" in quotes because the governor wanted to continue it but the House budget killed it effective July 1. 

That plan would have benefited those who were registering in May or June but it provided no benefit to those who had already registered. The House proposed to spread that windfall to all by reducing the gas tax by 5¢ per gallon, which would benefit all taxpayers. 

In my view, both the Senate plan and the proposed House amendment were shortsighted because either way, the state road repair money would be reduced by about $6.6 million, the amount of money collected by that temporary surcharge in its last two months.

We have two notorious roads in Sutton and Newbury. Route 103-A in Newbury was "patched" last year and is still in need of major repairs. But Route 114 in Sutton is even worse. Not only is it in great disrepair but that is compounded by the fact that both Kearsarge High School and Middle School are located in Sutton. I am told that 30 of our 31 bus routes are forced to use that mal-repaired highway on a daily basis by necessity. Keeping the plight of my constituents in Sutton and Newbury in mind, I could not vote to support a $6.6 million reduction in our state road construction fund. 

I must admit that I was subjected to a considerable amount of pressure to vote with the Speaker on this issue. Integrity dictated that I notify him first. After discussing my position, it was accepted that I would not be voting for what he considered a signature bill. I voted against both the House’s amendment to reduce the tax by 5¢ and the underlying Senate bill, since both would reduce the highway fund. I felt that my commitments to my constituents came first. Unfortunately, both the bill and the amendment passed.

My constituent was kind enough to write back to me after receiving my reply. She wrote, "Thank YOU for your well considered positions and regard for your constituents and your reply!" It is always encouraging to get positive feedback on my votes.


Steve Winter, Representative, Merrimack District 3
Newbury and Sutton, New Hampshire 

Telephone:  603-271- 3125 and 271-3319

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