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Miller says he's not in favor of fuel tax hike

Jan 4, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Federal lands and fuel taxes will be on Rep. Dave Miller's mind as he heads back to Cheyenne. Miller, R-Riverton, will start his eighth term in Wyoming's House of Representatives when the regular session begins Jan. 8.

Miller said he opposes the Legislature's joint interim revenue committee's proposed legislation that would raise the tax on gasoline and diesel by 10 cents a gallon.

"For people to say it won't increase the cost of gas in Wyoming is ridiculous," he said.

Miller is also writing a bill aiming to take federal lands in Wyoming and put them under state jurisdiction.

His bill would target mainly Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land, Miller said, but not park or military land.

A similar bill in Utah inspired him to work on the issue, Miller said.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, signed a bill in March which demands the federal government give Utah some 20 million acres of federal land in the state.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, in May vetoed a similar bill passed by her state's legislature.

"The federal folks are not supporting mineral development on federal lands," he said. "(That is) restricting the ability to create jobs and revenue."

Wyoming ownership of public lands would guarantee the state's revenues, Miller said. He added mineral taxes help pay state employee salaries, fund education and provide money for roads.

Mineral developers have to seek permits from the state and the federal governments, Miller said. His bill would eliminate the need for federal permits in Wyoming, speeding development, he said.

"(Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality permiters) do a better job than the feds," Miller said. "They're proactive; they're responsive."

If his bill passes, Miller is not sure what steps would have to follow for Wyoming to take control of federal lands, but he said action from courts or the federal legislature may be necessary.

"It'll be a long process, no doubt about it," Miller said. "I'm just planting the seed now."

Miller also has a new role this year: a seat on the judiciary committee.

"I asked to be on a committee I hadn't been on before," he said. "They gave me judiciary."

A large portion of the legislators are lawyers, Miller said. Not being an attorney, he thinks he will bring a different perspective to the judiciary committee.

"I think there's way to much lawyering going on all the time," he said.

He does not know of specific bills he wants to work on, but he does know the view he will take.

"I don't think we need to be looking at creating more laws all the time," he said. "We should enforce those we already have."

Miller said he is also the chairman of the management audit special committee. He has been on the committee for several years, and he was the chairman once before.

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