- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) on March 25 approved legislation that permits the department of transportation to authorize up to $1 billion in general obligation (GO) bonds over the next four years to accelerate transportation projects. Gov. Herbert signed into law another bill to adjust the state’s variable-rate motor fuel tax four days prior to the bond bill.
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on March 27 approved legislation that will utilize $400 million from the state’s transportation fund for immediate construction work on the state’s roads and bridges. The additional appropriation is a result of 2016 legislation that increased the state gas tax by 23 cents per gallon.
Legislation Awaiting Governor Approval
- Legislation to provide $300 million in Grant Anticipation Revenue (GARVEE) bonds and reroute 1 percent of the state’s sales tax proceeds to transportation projects was approved by Idaho lawmakers on March 28. The Senate approved the bill 19-6 just one day after it was introduced, followed closely by the House with a vote of 51-19. An additional bill to provide $52 million in emergency road funding for counties that have received a gubernatorial declaration of disaster was also approved the same day. Both bills are pending final approval from Gov. Butch Otter (R).
- California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Democratic leaders on March 29 announced a $5.2 billion transportation funding proposal that could increase fuel taxes by 12 cents per gallon and registration fees (based on average mileage, vehicle miles-per-gallon, and vehicle value) if approved by the legislature. The package also includes a provision to prevent lawmakers from using transportation-related revenue for non-transportation purposes. Gov. Brown and leading Democratic lawmakers set a goal of April 6 to pass the legislation.
Existing Legislation Changes
- A Montana bill to increase the state motor fuels tax passed the House on third reading 54-45 on March 29. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
- A comprehensive transportation funding package was passed by an Indiana Senate committee with amendments on March 28 and will likely go before the full Senate next week. If the Senate approves the measure it will go back to the House to confirm the amendments.
- Tennessee’s IMPROVE Act continues to advance through committees in both the House and the Senate. House Bill (HB) 534 passed the Local Government Committee on March 28 and now goes to the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. The Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to review the bill on April 4.
- Mississippi lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on the state department of transportation’s budget bill before the legislative session ended on March 27. Disagreement over whether to dedicate revenue from a voluntary internet sales tax to transportation funding led to the impasse between the House and the Senate. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) may call a special session to address the unfinished legislation.
- An Arkansas measure to earmark existing internet sales tax revenue for highway projects was approved by the House on March 27 and is now with the Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation.