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10/9/2012
Election 2012: Election Day questions cover transportation issues
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

The ballot next month will address transportation-related initiatives in some states. There are several ballot initiatives of note in Washington, California and Massachusetts.

Voters in Washington state can cast ballots Nov. 6 on requirements for future tax and fee increases, including tolls and fuel.

Initiative 1185 would mandate that state lawmakers get a two-thirds majority to approve any tax or fee increase, including new fees. The only other option to pass increases would be a public vote.

Revenue would also be limited to the purposes described in statute.

Opponents say that the initiative would allow a one-third majority in either chamber of the statehouse to prevent passage of any measure to raise revenue through taxes. Supporters say the protection would increase lawmakers’ willingness to compromise and prioritize spending.

Down the coast in California, one issue on the statewide ballot would rewrite some of the rules that cover vehicle insurance.

Proposition 33 would scale back restrictions that prevent insurance companies from setting vehicle insurance rates based on a driver’s history of coverage.

Specifically, insurance companies could offer proportional discounts to drivers with some prior insurance coverage. Companies could also increase costs for drivers who have not maintained continuous coverage.

Exceptions would be made for anyone who went five years without a 90-day lapse. Anyone who loses their job would receive 18 months forgiveness. Service members would also be exempt.

Supporters say that the change would increase competition and lower premiums. Opponents say the exact opposite would result for drivers who weren’t previously insured, or who allowed their coverage to lapse.

The state’s attorney general’s office reports that vehicle insurance accounted for about $21 billion, or 40 percent, of all premiums collected in California insurers a year ago.

Across the country in Massachusetts, voters will make the final decision on a “Right to Repair” initiative. However, people on both sides of the issue are encouraging voters to skip the question.

Question 1 on the statewide ballot would require vehicle manufacturers, including large truck makers, to provide consumers with access to the same diagnostic and repair information made available to dealers and the state’s authorized repair facilities.

A similar effort was approved at the statehouse during the summer. However, the new state law, which excludes large trucks, was signed into law weeks after the deadline to make changes to the fall ballot.

The new law is set to take effect on Election Day. If Question 1 passes, it would invalidate the new law.

For more 2012 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the story topic. Comments may be sent to state_legislative_editor@ooida.com.

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