Jan. 5 Update: Mississippi House lawmakers voted 119-1 on Jan. 4 to send House Bill 354 to the Senate for further consideration. The bill would designate 50 percent of general fund revenue growth above 2 percent (capped at $100 million) to road repairs. The House also voted 117-3 to borrow $50 million for dilapidated county and city bridges.
An additional bill to prioritize the maintenance of existing roads over new highway construction also passed, though along much narrower margins with a vote of 71-42. Critics of the bill say it favors areas with existing construction and neglects those that have not yet started projects, and is not meeting the requirements of heavily-congested corridors.
All three bills will now move to the state Senate for review.
It may be only the first week of 2018, but several states are already taking action to increase transportation revenue.
A bill to increase the motor vehicle registration fee imposed by cities and counties was amended and approved by the New Hampshire Senate for interim study on Jan. 3. Revenue generated by the fee is dedicated to transportation purposes. The bill, carried over from 2017 into the second half of the legislative session, had been introduced in December 2016 and approved by the House on March 9.
New Hampshire lawmakers have introduced several other transportation funding bills as well, including bills to create an electric and hybrid vehicle fee and legislation that would establish a road usage registration fee based on the equivalent miles per gallon of the vehicle.
Kentucky lawmakers are also filing legislation early to increase state transportation funding. A bill pre-filed in September would establish new fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, indexed to changes in the average wholesale price of gasoline as the state gas tax is adjusted. A bill filed when the 2018 legislative session began on Jan. 2, will create a task force to explore the possibility of instituting a mileage-based user fee as a transportation funding mechanism within the state.
A New York state senator also introduced legislation to launch a pilot program on the feasibility of a road usage charge. If approved, the pilot program would begin in Jan. 2019. The bill is currently with the state Senate Transportation Committee.
Multiple bills to increase transportation funding were introduced in Mississippi when the legislature convened on Jan. 3. The House Ways and Means Committee recommended the passage of two measures that would borrow $50 million for dilapidated county and city bridges, and utilize a portion of Internet sales taxes for the repair, maintenance and reconstruction of roads and bridges. The House Transportation Committee gave initial approval to a bill that would divert 50 percent of general fund revenue growth above 2 percent (capped at $100 million) to road repairs. The committee also recommended a measure that would prohibit highway construction until new revenue was approved, instead prioritizing maintenance of existing roads.
Follow ARTBA-TIAC for updates on state transportation funding legislation throughout 2018.