We have reached halftime in the 2017 state legislative session. Coach ICI’s halftime speech to senators, considering the transportation funding bill passed through the house last week, would include:
- Encouragement to not lose focus on our state transportation funding goal of sustainable long-term funding;
- Don’t react to “shot fakes” – keep both feet on the ground to defend against attacks on this session’s road funding focus, and finally;
- Work as team. If everyone does their job, Indiana will soon have streets, highways, and interstates worthy of our state motto: The Crossroads of America.
Back to reality, ICI staff and members met with representatives from APPIAN, 1816, Inc. and Build Indiana Council to discuss the first half of the 2017 legislative session and the initiatives moving down the home stretch. The consensus is that the first half of this session has been low key. High profile contentious social issues are not leading the agenda as in previous sessions. Transportation funding has been the talk of the Statehouse halls. The House passed its transportation funding bill, HB 1002, last week, and it’s now in the hands of the Senate where the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee chaired by Senator Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) will consider it. Currently HB 1002 includes a combination of funding mechanisms including a fuel tax increase, indexing of all fuel tax rates, transfer of $0.045 of the gasoline sales tax to the State Highway Fund, a $15 annual automobile registration fee and a $150 fee for all electric vehicles.
In addition to HB 1002, there are several non-funding bills we are actively working on or tracking. HB 1018 addresses vehicles that haul aggregate. The bill states that the vehicle, loaded or unloaded, shall be free from any openings that would allow material to escape. ICI is not in favor of this bill. It appears to target aggregate haulers and would allow law enforcement to stop trucks upon suspicion that material has fallen from any part of a vehicle.
Two other bills, HB 1447 and SB 295 address the points on CDL licenses that were assessed in 2016 due to a spring 2016 revision to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles points table. ICI supports the aim of the bills. They would provide relief for truck drivers that have been cited for driving an overweight truck without having full control over the material loaded in it. ICI staff and our lobbying team will continue to communicate with key lawmakers associated with these bills.
Finally, it was noted that Representative Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) has included language in his motor vehicle law catch-all bill to include surveyors and construction vehicles in the current “move over, slow down” law.
Build Indiana Council is planning a second Road Funding Day on March 21. Please register and plan to go to the Statehouse on that day to support road funding and communicate with your legislators!