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The House easily approved legislation Friday that would grant cities and counties the authority to raise their sales tax to bolster public-transit routes and improve air quality.

"I believe the people in our local communities are ready to make this stretch," said Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, the sponsor of HB388. "They're ready to make this stretch with their tax dollars and they're ready to make the stretch with their lifestyles."

Anderson's bill would allow cities and counties to raise the sales tax by 0.25 percent, with the proceeds going to transit.

Residents would onsider approval of the tax hike on the ballot.

"There are two levels of eyes that will have to look at this," said Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, a co-sponsor of the legislation.

In Salt Lake County, in particular, the money could not go to expanding the light rail infrastructure. Instead, Anderson said he wants the money to go to expanding bus routes and reviving routes that were eliminated during the recession.

"We're looking at being able to reduce emissions by 281,172 tons with full implementation of this," Anderson said.

The bill passed the House 58-10 and goes to the Senate for consideration.

Robert Gehrke