OOIDA ELECTION REPORT Louisiana, Oregon, Rhode Island voters decide on transportation issues

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/6/2014

Voters in Louisiana, Oregon and Rhode Island cast ballots this week on transportation-related issues.

Louisiana voters overwhelmingly rejected an effort to amend the state’s constitution to allow for the investment of public funds into a yet-to-be-created transportation infrastructure bank.

Amendment 4 on the statewide ballot sought to set up a revolving loan program for municipalities to borrow for road improvements.

The amendment did not call for making changes to the state’s existing tax and fee collection. Specifically, it called for creating a structure for the movement of funds if and when the state establishes an infrastructure bank.

Supporters said that new financing sources are needed to address road improvements and infrastructure needs that would increase safety and reduce congestion. They also said the current fuel tax is not keeping up with the growing costs and needs of highway work.

Opponents said the funding mechanism should not be implemented until the Legislature can agree on a complementary package of bills that would fully put into practice an infrastructure bank and its financing process.

In Oregon, voters decided by a two-to-one margin to turn back an effort to grant driver’s cards to residents unable to prove they are in the U.S. legally. Affected drivers would not have been eligible for commercial driver’s licenses.

Applicants would have been required to pass a written and driving test, provide proof of residency in the state for at least one year, provide proof of identity, and date of birth. The cards could not have been used for identification purposes other than proof of their authorization by the state to drive.

Measure 88 was a veto referendum to overturn a 2013 Oregon law to make four-year driver licenses available to affected drivers.

Advocates for the driver cards said it would help Oregon residents follow the law and improve safety on the road by reducing the number of uninsured and unlicensed drivers.

The one-year-old law was put on hold to await the Election Day outcome.

In Rhode Island, voters approved Question 6 on the statewide ballot to borrow $35 million to aid mass transit.

Specifically, the question’s passage allows the state to move forward with a variety of upgrades that include repairs to the Providence train station, expanded bus service on popular routes and better links between the city’s airport and train station.

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