Under conditions that seem to hand Gov. Martin O’Malley virtually every piece of legislation he wants, don’t expect the General Assembly at large to deny him his gas tax hike.

Maryland Reporter cites House Republicans’ claim that while the state’s current tax rate of 23.5 cents per gallon puts us solidly in the middle of the field, but after the increase our gas tax will be the “fifth highest in the nation.”

The House bill made it out of committee with ease, and several Republican-proposed amendments were struck down before the House gave the bill preliminary approval last night. It’s expected to pass today.

Apparently, the Republicans were the most outraged by the provision in the bill that would set the tax to automatically rise with inflation. One Republican claimed it was the first tax ever passed in the state indexed to inflation. But aren’t sales tax, income tax, and pretty much any tax based on a percentage indexed to inflation? And even taxes set to raw numbers of cents will rise over time to keep up. So that argument falls a little flat.

But when you have a governor who can just about pass legislation at will, where’s the pressure to ensure that the bills are equitable, or even smart?