South Dakota law creates more money for highways

| 3/24/2009

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds signed a bill into law that is intended to help ease a shortage of available dollars for the state’s highway trust fund. The fund pays for roadwork and the state Highway Patrol.

Another effort that didn’t win approval from lawmakers sought to raise the state’s fuel tax and to increase license plate fees to benefit road and bridges.

The new law will support the Highway Patrol by increasing certain fees on cars and trucks. Previously SB32, it will use the additional revenue to reduce the amount of state general funds now paying for operations of the Highway Patrol and for driver licensing and vehicle licensing services.

At the request of the governor, among the changes included will be the fee for commercial driver’s licenses and renewals. The fee will increase from $15 to $25. Each CDL endorsement knowledge test will cost $10 – up from $5. The cost for duplicate licenses, name changes, or address changes will be raised from $6 to $10.

Fees are routed into the state motor vehicle fund.

The fee for personal driver’s licenses and renewals also will be increased from $8 to $20. Out of every fee for personal driver’s licenses and renewals $5 will be routed to the Highway Patrol. The rest of the money will continue to be deposited into the state motor vehicle fund.

The Highway Patrol also benefits from a separate provision in the bill that adds $1 to the fee on commercial and noncommercial vehicles registered in South Dakota. There are about 1.7 million motor vehicles are registered in the state, The Aberdeen American News reported.

Lawmakers are facing a potential $90 million shortfall for highway needs in 2009, which spurred discussion of other measures to trim the funding gap.

Among those efforts was a bill that called for raising the state’s fuel tax and increasing license plate fees. However, the Senate voted 20-15 to kill the bill, which would have added 3 cents per gallon to fuel purchases. House lawmakers previously approved it.

The bill – HB1007 – also sought to increase certain license fees for noncommercial vehicles.

To view other legislative activities of interest for South Dakota in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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