- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Latest on Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax proposal (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

The Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus is urging state lawmakers to approve Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s transportation funding proposal that would include the state’s first gas tax hike since 1989.

Haslam’s proposal, dubbed the Improve Act, would also make cuts to the state’s sales tax on groceries, corporate taxes paid by manufacturers and the tax on earnings from stocks and bonds.

The Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus includes Nashville and nine surrounding counties. They single out a provision of the bill that would provide for a local option to have voters decide on whether to raise city or county taxes to pay for transit projects.

The mayors say that providing for a referendum on those taxes “allows these decisions to be made at home.”

The House is scheduled to vote on the bill on Wednesday morning.

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10:30 a.m.

A national transportation research group’s study says deterioration, congestion and lack of safety features on Tennessee roads and bridges cost the state’s drivers $6 billion annually.

The report by TRIP was released Tuesday, the day before a House floor vote on Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to raise the gas tax for road improvements.

The group says the $6 billion figure includes higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.

The report says the average extra cost to each driver annually is $2,019 in Memphis, $1,667 in Nashville, $1,471 in Chattanooga and $1,376 in Knoxville.

Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance Chairman Bill Moore says the funding proposed by Haslam is necessary as congestion in cities rises.

The report says congestion in Nashville causes 45 hours of delay annually for the average driver.

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1:30 a.m.

Speaker Beth Harwell is calling for civility between her Republican colleagues as the Tennessee House prepares for a contentious vote on Gov. Bill Haslam’s transportation funding proposal on Wednesday.

Harwell urged Republican members to “be kind to one another” even if they disagree on the substance of the bill that would raise the state’s gas tax for the first time since 1989.

Supporters of the bill note that it would make deeper cuts in areas like the sales tax on groceries than it would raise at the pump, but opponents question that math and have vowed to vote against any tax increase.

Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station has called the bill a “farce” and berated GOP supporters in committees, on the floor and in a press conference.

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