A state Assembly committee began considering a bill last week that would allow the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to put proposed gas fees before voters that would require a simple majority approval, rather than a two-thirds majority.

Revenue from the fees would be used to fund transit, bike and pedestrian projects that can be proven to relieve traffic. The funds could also be used to build toll lanes or to make safety and maintenance improvements to highwaysand bridges.

The bill, introduced by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), would allow local planning and transportation organizations to levy congestion-reduction charges at the gas pump, if a majority of voters approve the fees.

The fees could be in place for up to 30 years and corresponding charges would be added to the vehicle registration of electric car owners.

In November 2010, voters approved Proposition 26, which forced state and local governments to begin treating fees and surcharges like taxes, requiring a two-thirds voter approval to assess new fees. However, the law provided exceptions for new fees that provide benefits specifically to those who pay the fees.

Proponents of the bill, SB 791, argue an anti-congestion fee would meet that criteria, benefiting those who would pay the new fees, namely drivers.

In 2008, more than two-thirds of Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase to fund 12 major transit projects, including a subway to Westwood and extensions to the Gold Line light rail into the San Gabriel Valley.

Move L.A. executive director and former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane said it was a miracle Measure R passed with a two-thirds vote in the face of a broad economic calamity.

The California Taxpayers Association, which sponsored Proposition 26, said Steinberg’s bill would not qualify as an exception.

“This bill is a gas tax plain and simple,” spokesman David Kline said. “Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion.”