By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
A bill on the move at the North Dakota Legislature addresses the growing pains associated with a larger population. A failed bill sought to generate road revenue.
The House voted 82-12 to advance a bill to the Senate that would extend license renewals from four years to six years for most motorists. Commercial drivers would still need to renew their license every four years.
Supporters say the changes are being pursued to address the increased workload for renewals. The state?s population reportedly has grown by more than 30,000 people in the past decade.
The bill was amended in committee to limit the extended renewals to motorists ranging in age from 21 to 77 years old. Previously, HB1109 called for all motorists at least 21 years old to keep their licenses for an extra two years.
Critics had been concerned that elderly drivers would go another two years before renewing their licenses. According to statistics from the NDDOT, drivers 65 and older account for 17 percent of the state?s drivers and they were involved in 13 percent of 2009 crashes.
Also included in the bill is a requirement that all licensed drivers pay an extra $5 at renewal time. Currently, the fee is $10. Although the state?s oldest drivers wouldn?t be allowed to keep their licenses longer, they would still be required to pay the extra cost.
According to a fiscal note on the bill, the fee increase would offset the longer license duration and allow the state to generate another $30,000 per year.
The bill is awaiting consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee.
House lawmakers voted to reject another bill that sought to make more money available for highway work around the state.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple?s plan calls for spending nearly $230 million to repair and improve state roads during the next two years. A House bill would have gone a long way in reaching the governor?s goal.
HB1043 sought to mandate that revenue from the motor vehicle excise tax, which would otherwise go to the state?s general fund, be deposited into the Highway Tax Distribution Fund.
The House voted 87-5 to kill the bill.
A fiscal note on the bill reported that about $185 million in revenue would have been affected during the next two years. The North Dakota Department of Transportation would have received about $113 million. Counties would have received nearly $41 million, while cities would have received another $23 million. Public transportation would have received nearly $3 million.
To view other legislative activities of interest for North Dakota, click here.
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