By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
A new two-year, $1.7 billion state transportation budget provides North Dakota with a record amount of state money for roads. Some money is being allotted to help the state license more commercial drivers.
Also signed into law is a bill to address the growing pains associated with the state’s larger population.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law a bill – HB1012 – that will route money to counties, townships and cities for roadwork.
“The remarkable growth in oil and gas development in western North Dakota and the no-less pressing needs for infrastructure improvements in other areas throughout the state demand that we make these historic investments,” Dalrymple said in a statement.
The budget earmarks $600 million for repairs to state highways throughout the state. In addition, about $370 million will be routed to roads in the 17 oil and gas producing counties in western North Dakota.
State highways in the oil-producing country will receive $228 million and another $142 million will be used for county, city and township roads there.
Another $60 million is pegged for city, county and township roads in counties outside the state’s oil and gas region.
The bill also authorizes more driver’s license examiners to help get more people licensed to drive large trucks in the state’s oil country.
“This DOT budget bill goes a long way in providing the necessary funds to keep the economic blood of our state healthy and flowing,” Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem stated.
Dalrymple also signed into law is a bill to extend license renewals from four years to six years for most motorists. Commercial drivers still need to renew their license every four years.
Supporters say the changes allow the state 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 extended renewals are limited to motorists ranging in age from 21 to 77.
The age cap is included to address concerns 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 – HB1109 – 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 will not be allowed to keep their licenses longer, they are still required to pay the extra cost.
According to a fiscal note on the bill, the fee increase will offset the longer license duration and allow the state to generate another $30,000 per year.
To view other legislative activities of interest for North Dakota, click here.
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