BIC Matters – Call Your Legislator About HB 1001 Before Wednesday’s Vote

The House Roads and Transportation Committee will vote next Wednesday on HB 1001, the House Republican road funding plan that provides long-term, dedicated and stable funding for state and local road and bridge improvements. BIC strongly supports HB 1001.

ACTION REQUIRED:  If your House member is on the Roads and Transportation Committee, it is critical that you contact your legislator and encourage him or her to vote “Yes” on HB 1001. You should contact your legislator before Wednesday, January 20 when the vote will take place.

We also ask you to call your state representative even if he or she does not serve on the committee. In this case, you should urge your legislator to support HB 1001 and voice his or her support to caucus leadership.

Background on HB 1001: On Monday, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) held a press conference and released the text of HB 1001 (the bill author, Representative Ed Soliday [R-Valparaiso], was unable to attend due to illness). Click here for the bill and here for the promotional material produced by the House Republican Caucus.

The bill would increase funding by about $880 million in fiscal year 2017, and more than $450 million each year on a long-term basis (and possibly substantially more depending on state budget reserves and whether locals enact local options) through these measures:

  • Implements a retroactive index on fuel taxes to restore lost buying power;
  • Directs excess general fund reserves to road funding uses beginning with the FY 2016 fiscal year-end closeout;
  • Directs 5 percent (of 7 percent) of gasoline use tax to road funding (this is the sales tax collected on gasoline);
  • Requires INDOT to study tolling on major interstates and submit a waiver to Federal Highway Administration requesting approval to toll existing lanes;
  • Creates a local road and bridge matching grant account;
  • Implements a registration fee for electric vehicles;
  • Allows locals to enact a public safety local option income tax (within current LOIT maximum rates) for local road and bridge improvements;
  • Allows cities with population of 20,000 or more to implement surtax/wheel tax; and
  • Increases the maximum allowable rates for existing county surtax/wheel tax rates.

Yesterday, the Roads and Transportation Committee, chaired by Representative Soliday, heard more than four hours of testimony on the bill with the overwhelming majority testifying in favor. Testimony against the bill came from anti-tax groups and those representing organizations that sell cigarettes. (The bill includes a $1 per pack cigarette tax increase to offset general fund Medicaid expenses that the gasoline sales tax currently funds.)

Please call your state representatives urging support for HB 1001. The immediate task at hand is that we ensure that a majority of the Roads and Transportation Committee members vote in favor of HB 1001. We need both Republican and Democrat votes in support. Please contact your House member, and then call BIC with your feedback (317) 634-4774.

Plan to attend BIC’s Road Funding Day at the Statehouse on January 25. We’ve received commitments from Chairman Soliday and INDOT Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson to participate in the program. Come to Indy, and bring your locals officials with you. We need a robust turnout. Register now!

In other road funding news, SB 67 authored by Senator Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), is eligible for a full Senate vote next week. His Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee passed the bill this week, and it went through second reading today. The bill would release back to local entities the local option tax revenues that the state holds in trust accounts and require 75 percent of the funds to be used on road and bridge improvements. BIC testified in support of this bill at the committee hearing.

Also this week, the Senate Transportation Committee chaired by Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury) heard SB 333, Governor Mike Pence’s proposal to use state general funds and excess reserves, as well as bonding, to fund state road and bridge improvements. BIC testified in support of the bill, and it unanimously passed out of committee. It is now eligible for amendment on the Senate floor.

Please call the BIC office (317) 634-4774 with feedback from your legislators. It is important that we know what they tell you. Thank you.