Michigan bills pursue road funds through public vote

| 8/30/2010

The push for funding methods to pay for road and bridge work in Michigan continues at the statehouse. Two bills introduced in the past week would provide a boost for transportation funding if voters respond favorably to the plans.

Sponsored by Rep. Gabe Leland, D-Detroit, the first bill would give counties an opportunity to pursue charging a tax on fuel purchases. Commercial vehicles, however, would not be charged the additional tax

Use and distribution of funds collected must be specified. Options would be limited to road construction and maintenance, public transportation and other projects, including bike and walking trails.

A local tax could not exceed 3 cents per gallon if one county is pursuing the tax. Two neighboring counties could combine to impose a tax of up to 5 cents per gallon. Three neighboring counties would be authorized to charge up to 7 cents per gallon.

If approved by lawmakers the tax effort would still need to go before voters before any increase could be implemented.

The bill – HB6398 – is in the House Transportation Committee.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has already signed into law one bill this summer to help counties pay for road work. County road commissions are now allowed to use 50 percent of their primary road system funds on the county local road system. Previously, the threshold was 30 percent.

Another bill awaiting consideration by the committee is also intended to help get local transportation work done. Sponsored by Rep. Pam Byrnes, D-Lyndon Township, the bill would allow counties to ask voters whether to impose an additional tax on driver’s licenses, including commercial driver’s licenses.

All original or renewed licenses would have a $25 fee attached.

The bill – HB6396 – calls for specifics on how the tax money would be distributed. All funds could be used only for transportation projects, such as roadwork, transit and trails.

Michigan lawmakers have until the end of the year to discuss all legislation. Any bills not approved by then would need to be reintroduced during the 2011 regular session.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.