OOIDA State Watch

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor


Gov. Rick Scott announced a nearly $10 billion plan to fund transportation projects for 2016. Roads and bridges would receive the bulk of funding for projects throughout the state. One-third of the funds would be applied for new highway construction.

The Legislature must approve the governor's state budget proposal. The issue will be addressed during the regular session.


One Senate bill would provide a one-time allotment via a reserve balance from local income tax revenues for local governments to improve roads and bridges. SB67 calls for routing about $170 million to counties, and $246 million to cities and towns. Localities would be required to direct at least 75 percent of the funds toward local road and bridge needs or a rainy day fund. The remaining 25 percent could be used at the localities' discretion.


Two bills halfway through the statehouse are of interest. SB857 would boost penalties for "rogue" commercial household goods movers operating in the state.

Failure to register and obtain a permit with the Public Utility Commission to maintain workers compensation coverage, pay wages subject to taxation and have adequate insurance coverage for goods moved could result in $5,000 fines, a third degree misdemeanor, suspension of registration and forfeiture of the motor vehicle used in the illegal move. Subsequent offenses could result in $10,000 fines and one year behind bars.

HB950 would remove the state's existing sunset provision for red-light cameras. Without legislative action to save them, the devices are set to be discontinued in the state on Jan. 1, 2017.

A Senate bill would authorize the use of speed enforcement cameras along U.S. 1, or Roosevelt Boulevard, in Philadelphia. SB1034 would permit use of the speed cameras along the 15-mile roadway stretching from the Bucks County line to Interstate 76. Violators exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 10 mph would face $100 fines. No points would be added to driver's licenses.

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed into law one bill to authorize fines up to $10,000 and loss of driving privileges for certain distracted or aggressive driving offenses in construction zones. SB887 also expands the definition of "highway workers" to include emergency personnel, local government and municipal workers, state troopers and other law enforcement personnel, and contractors or utility company workers. The new rule takes effect in late May.


Two House bills are of interest. HB1416 would allow police to ticket drivers lingering in the far left lanes of interstates and highways with at least three lanes of traffic in one direction. Any driver on affected roadways would be required to stay to the right except when overtaking or passing another vehicle. Certain other exceptions would apply. The Tennessee DOT would not be required to post signage to alert drivers to the rule.

HB1443 would reduce from 60 days to 14 days the maximum amount of time that a towing and storage facility may charge the vehicle's owner or lienholder a storage fee.


A Senate bill would make it more difficult for truck drivers to get retribution from crooked tow and recovery operators. SB141 would remove the ability of motor carriers to file complaints with the state's attorney general.


An Assembly bill would restore fuel tax indexing starting May 1, 2017. The state Legislature voted in 2005 to end automatic increases. AB468 would authorize tax increases only after the Joint Committee on Finance approves the increase or takes no action. The panel could vote to prevent an increase.

One Senate bill could throw a wrench into plans to construct roundabouts around the state. SB242 would prohibit construction of roundabouts by the Wisconsin DOT unless local governments sign off on the projects. LL