Kansas bills would raid road funds, create 'safety corridors'

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, February 27, 2012

The Kansas Legislature could soon decide on a plan to divert money from roads. Also under review at the capitol is an effort that is intended to improve safety on two well-traveled roadways.

A Republican-led initiative in the House would divert $350 million over two years from roads. The money would be used to replace revenue lost by a cut in state income taxes.

Two years ago six-tenths of a penny was added to the state’s 5.7 percent sales tax. The increase is set to expire in July 2013.

To help the state cope with the loss in revenue, the House plan would use funds designated for the state’s comprehensive T-WORKS transportation program.

The House GOP initiative is an alternative to Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to extend collection of the 0.6-cent tax.

Plans call for the $350 million to be put back into highways down the road.

Critics, including the Kansas Department of Transportation, say some road projects would have to be delayed if lawmakers sign off on the diversion.

The House plan would set fiscal year 2013 as the baseline for sales tax aid to KDOT. Supporters say the distinction would keep sales tax the same during the next two fiscal years, before increasing in 2016.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to diverting money designated for transportation uses.

On OOIDA’s list of highway funding principles, the Association demands the responsible use of taxpayer dollars.

Also of interest to truck drivers is an effort to improve safety on two heavily used roadways near Kansas City and Wichita.

The Senate voted 22-18 to advance a bill to create “safety corridors” on Kansas Highway 10 between Lawrence and Lenexa, and on U.S. Highway 54.

The distinction would authorize law enforcement to charge double fines for speeding and other moving violations in the affected areas.

Advocates are hopeful the change will reduce deadly traffic wrecks occurring on the roadways in recent years.

In addition, offenses of exceeding the posted limit by 5 mph could not be negotiated to keep violations off an offenders’ driving record. Kansas law now allows speeding violations up to 10 mph outside safety corridors to stay off drivers’ records.

The bill – SB342 – is awaiting assignment to committee in the House.

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

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the story topic. Comments may be sent to state_legislative_editor@ooida.com.

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