ELECTION 2014: Michigan governor involved in transportation, truck issues

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/4/2014

Michigan is one of 36 states this fall where voters will decide on filling seats for state offices, including the governors.

Up for re-election is Gov. Rick Snyder. The Republican has addressed road funding concerns and trucking issues during his term in office.

A year ago he called on state lawmakers to approve a transportation funding plan that would raise an estimated $1.2 billion in new revenue each year. It included an overhaul for how the state collects taxes at the pump.

Snyder said at the time that he wants to get rid of the current system and start taxing gas and diesel at the wholesale level. The change would allow tax collections to increase with inflation.

But lawmakers did not warm up to his idea.

In 2012, Snyder signed a bill into law to divert some transportation-related funds for pavement work for two years.

The change halted a $12 million deposit in road tax money to the state Transportation Economic Development Fund. The fund pays for highway, road and street improvements related to a particular new plant or development.

Instead, the revenue generated from driver’s license fees was applied to road construction and maintenance.

During the same regular session, Snyder signed into law a bill to ensure that more money collected at the pump is used on pavement. Specifically, the change reroutes a portion of state sales tax imposed on motor fuel purchases to roads. Previously, the money went into the general fund and school aid fund.

Snyder referred to the change as “important to our quality of life and our economic future.”

Another bill of note signed into law two years ago transfers the ability to run performance audits of local road agencies from the Department of Treasury to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“The state has a duty to confirm that local road agencies use state dollars effectively,” he said at the time. “Transferring this duty to MDOT guarantees the best expertise in these audits.”

Bills signed into law during Snyder’s term that deal specifically with trucking include:

Outlawing provisions in trucking contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence and make them “void and unenforceable.”

Giving courts discretion in imposing penalties on trucks that are not overweight overall, but may have one or more axles carrying more weight than allowed.

Clarification of the definition of rolling stock in use tax exemption to include aftermarket parts added to trucks and trailers operating interstate, such as in-cab heaters, APUs and GPS devices.

Exempting small commercial motor vehicles with gross weights under 26,001 pounds that operate intrastate from portions of the state’s Motor Carrier Safety Act.

For more 2014 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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