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Eastbound, left, and westbound traffic flows on Interstate 10 at the Nairn Drive overpass as icy weather conditions move through the area, Friday, January 6, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La.

The sponsor of a long-shot bid to increase Louisiana's gas tax shelved his own proposal Monday.

State Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said he took the action in the House Ways & Means Committee because of the late date, less than three weeks before adjournment on June 6.

The election-year push faced huge odds just two years after a similar effort died in the Legislature without a vote in either chamber.

Carter's move meant his colleagues on the committee did not have to cast a vote on a politically volatile topic. "I know this is an election year and a difficult time to talk about raising taxes," he said.

Motorists pay 38.4 cents per gallon, including 20 cents per gallon in state charges.

The Carter measure – House Bill 542 – would gradually raise the gas tax by 18 cents per gallon – $540 million per year.

Louisiana has a $14 billion backlog of road and bridge needs.

"I hate to tell you this but we have problems and we have to solve them," Carter told panel members.

Erich Ponti, leader of a roughly 100-member group called the Louisiana Coalition to Fix Our Roads, noted that the state gas tax not been increased since 1989.

"We need to address this," said Ponti, a former state lawmaker himself. "It has been over 30 years."

Ponti said Louisiana's backlog totals $26 billion when projects like construction of a new bridge across the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge are included.

Others who urged approval for the bill included the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Louisiana Motor Transit Association and Greater New Orleans Inc.

Opponents have said that, despite complaints about road and bridge conditions, most taxpayers are unwilling to pay more at the pump.

John Kay, president of the Virginia-based Americans for Prosperity-Louisiana, praised the demise of the legislation. "There is no denying our roads and highways need updating but increasing the tax burden on taxpayers is an unpalatable approach," Kay said in a statement.'

"It's been defeated many times before and will lose again because taxpayers are tired of funding bad spending habits with more tax increases," he said.

Carter, who is serving his final year in the House because of term limits, said he hopes the next governor will call a special session in 2020 to tackle infrastructure needs.

"This should be the No. 1 campaign issue," he said.

In 2017 the administration of Gov. John Bel Edwards led an effort to boost the gas tax by 17 cents per gallon.

This time there was no such involvement.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.