by Max Brantley
... you know what that means.
Hats off to Jason Tolbert, who's been dogging the great mystery of the nickel diesel tax increase, which passed the Senate yesterday with the bare 18 votes necessary, not a single one of them a Republican.
This is most interesting because the bill made it to the floor through the Transportation Committee, which is controlled by Republicans 5-3. The bill came out of committee on a motion of Republican Sen. Bruce "Fireball" Holland, who said it was a bad bill and later voted against it. Now the mystery: all four other senators — Missy Irvin, Bill Sample, Jeremy Hutchinson and Jake Files — are adamant in telling Tolbert that they voted against the bill.
But .... none of the Republicans asked for a roll call. So how in the world did this bill clear committee, with five votes needed?
As I've written before, it's very simple: All the Republicans now saying they opposed this tax and talking about how harmful it is (Sen. Irvin, shame on you for already demagoguing this on your Twitter account) had the means in their hands to kill it dead. They could have moved and adopted a "do not pass" motion. That action would have made passage by the Senate impossible without a vote of 21 members to revive the bill. It drew only 18 for passage.
The questions are these: 1) Why did the five Republicans play along with passage of this bill? and 2) what did they get in return? Their self-righteous declarations of opposition after the fact are hypocritical butt-covering, no more or less.