Nevada lawmakers consider transportation funding options

| 9/3/2008

A legislative panel in Nevada is musing over potential solutions for how to pay to build highways throughout the state.

At a recent gathering of the Legislature’s Subcommittee to Study Transportation Issues, members voted on proposals that could be introduced during the 2009 regular session to help the state cope with growing traffic. The options considered include increasing the state’s fuel tax rates, authorizing public-private partnerships for highways, and charging more for driver’s licenses.

Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, the chairman of the committee, decided against taking a vote on a proposal to allow toll roads that would be operated by the state or private groups. He cited a lack of support for the concept, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Also struck down was an effort to tie the state’s fuel tax rate to the consumer price index. Indexing would allow for regular changes in the tax applied to gas and diesel purchases.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has threatened to veto any bills that include tax increases.

The committee agreed to draft a bill that would add an extra $100 to the fines for people convicted of reckless driving, drunken driving, driving with a suspended or revoked license or being in a wreck. Revenue would be used solely for road work.

Legislators opted against pursuing a phone hot line that would allow residents to tattle on others who don’t put Nevada license plates on their vehicles after moving to the state.

Nevada law requires new residents to switch their license plates within 60 days of moving to the state, or after obtaining a Nevada driver’s license. Violators face fines of up to $500.

Advocates said the state’s transportation system could get another $5 million a year if new residents paid registration fees and put on Nevada plates. Critics said that people could abuse the hot line.

Also rejected was a proposal to increase the cost of driver’s licenses by $20.

Proposals that failed to get backing from the special panel can still be introduced during the session that begins Feb. 2, 2009.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Nevada in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor