The Senate Finance Committee today approved a repeal of the land transfer tax option that lawmakers gave to counties last year.
The option would allow counties to increase their land transfer tax by up to .4 percent. So far, 19 counties have held referendums to increase the tax and all have failed.
State Sen. David Hoyle, a Gaston County Democrat who sponsored the bill, said those failures show the public does not want it.
"Babe Ruth would not be happy with this record — they all struck out," said Hoyle, who is a finance committee co-chairman. "The people feel in my district, and in talking to folks around the state, that they should not continue to have this issue hanging over their heads."
The vote was not unanimous. Two senators spoke out against the repeal.
State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, a Carrboro Democrat, said that the six counties with a one percent land transfer tax, all in Senate leader Marc Basnight's district, have kept property taxes down while providing more money for schools.
"It is one of the most successful (tax options) that we've had," she said.
She said some counties might have passed the tax if Realtors and homebuilders hadn't spent heavily on advertising campaigns against it.
The legislation moves to the full Senate. It would also need approval in the House, where it faces stiff opposition from Speaker Joe Hackney, an Orange County Democrat.
He prevented a repeal from being placed in the House budget bill passed last week, and a majority of House members backed his ruling.