By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
On this page, Land Line rounds up some recent actions from statehouses.
A new law prohibits an officer’s evaluation from requiring a predetermined number of citations. Ticket quotas have been outlawed in Michigan, but a loophole allowed tickets issued to be used in evaluations of traffic enforcement officers, as long as ticket writing was weighed equally among other job criteria. The new rule outlaws the practice.
Multiple efforts expected to get attention seek to discourage or prohibit use of automated cameras by cities to issue tickets.
One bill – SB16 – would prohibit local governments from using photo systems at intersections. Another bill – HB53 – would prohibit use of speed cameras on all roadways except in school, construction or work zones.
Issues likely to be addressed this year include English-only driver’s licensing and truck rules – specifically, revisions to laws regarding weigh scales, commercial driver’s license provisions, and gross vehicle weight laws.
The state’s much-maligned Driver Responsibility Program is expected to come under fire from lawmakers.
The program was intended to provide a burst of state revenue for roads and trauma care centers from habitually bad drivers in the state, but fines collected have lagged far behind initial projections.
Another bill – HB48 – would authorize Texas state troopers to check southbound vehicles at the U.S. border. Even though the primary target is motorists, trucks wouldn’t be ruled out from additional inspection.
Issues that are expected to draw attention this year include the state’s fuel tax rate. HB1413 would change how the state collects fuel tax revenue. The 17.5-cent per-gallon tax rate would be converted to a percentage rate.
The percentage rate for gas and diesel would not change, but the rate would be applied against the average price per gallon, excluding federal and state excise taxes. The rate could be tweaked every six months.
A related bill – SB343 – would adjust fuel taxes each year to correspond with increases in the fuel efficiency of vehicles, as determined by federal fuel-economy standards.
A House bill would increase the fuel tax rate by 10 cents during the next three years to 24 cents per gallon. HB22 would increase the tax rate to 17 cents the first year, by another 3 cents the following year, and by 4 cents more in the final year of the phase-in. LL