ELECTION 2014: Kansas governor's track record on transportation issues

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

Voters this fall in Kansas will make decisions on various issues that stretch from the Beltway to around the block.

One office on ballots is for governor. Sitting Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, is seeking re-election against state Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence.

During Brownback’s four years in office he has approved changes to the state Department of Transportation and speed limits. He also did away with crash taxes and certain taxes collected on truckers.

In 2013, the governor signed a bill into law that partially merged the Kansas Turnpike Authority into the Kansas DOT. At the time, he said the move will “produce consistency and savings in the operation of Kansas highways.”

The change put the KDOT secretary in charge of the state Turnpike Authority. Responsibilities include serving as KTA’s director of operations and daily administration of the 236-mile toll road.

The deal was touted as saving the state $30 million over two years.

“While there will still be two transportation agencies in Kansas, this new law sets up a new structure that will improve efficiency and reduce the duplication of resources and efforts that now exist in the operation of the state’s highway systems,” Brownback said in prepared remarks at the time.

A provision included in the law prohibits any turnpike toll revenue from being used for anything other than KTA projects.

One year earlier he put his signature on a bill to repeal the state’s long running motor carrier property tax, or ad valorem. The tax was based on the value of rolling stock and was collected on motor carriers, regardless of baseplate, that use Kansas roads.

The state ceased collecting the tax on Jan. 1, 2014. In exchange, the state now collects an additional registration fee applied to intrastate and interstate operations. Out-of-state truckers pay the tax through the International Registration Plan.

During his first year in office Brownback signed a bill into law giving KDOT the go-ahead to increase the state’s speed limit by 5 mph on portions of highway. Specifically, speeds for all vehicles were authorized to be increased from 70 mph to 75 mph on rural stretches of divided four-lane highways, and the Kansas Turnpike.

Another bill signed by the governor prohibited the collection of fees applied for police and fire personnel responding to vehicle accidents in communities throughout the state.

The three-year-old law provides protections for anyone involved in a wreck inside or outside the city. Incidents involving the cleanup of hazmat and the need for ambulance services are not prohibited from incurred costs.

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

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