CONSISTENTLY DELIVERS

Oct 16, 2015

North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review: Transportation Spotlight

ICYMI, Political News

Member announcements continued this week with three more legislators announcing they will not be seeking reelection. Rep. Paul Tine (U-Dare), Rep. Leo Daughtry (R-Johnston), Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg) announced that they will finish their current term, but will not seek reelection for the 2017-18 General Assembly. Additionally, State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson (D-NC) has announced she intends to run for reelection in 2016. However, Treasurer Janet Cowell (D-NC) announced on Tuesday she would not be seeking reelection next year.

Also in the news, Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) signed SB 676, Autism Health Insurance Coverage in Charlotte on Thursday. The legislation provides insurance coverage for the treatment of Autism by requiring qualified health benefits plans to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of Autism. Gov. McCrory released the following statement:

“The families and caregivers of those with autism need every tool we can provide to get their loved ones treatment …This new law is not a silver bullet, but for many North Carolina families, it is a huge step in the right direction.”

FYI: Election Filing Deadlines

HB 373: Elections, was signed by Governor Pat McCrory on September 30, 2015. The bill changed the candidate filing deadlines and moved all 2016 NC primaries to March.

The new deadlines are as follows:
December 1, 2015 : Candidate filing begins
December 21, 2015 : Candidate filing closes
December 16, 2015 : Political parties must submit presidential preference candidates
March 3, 2016 : Early voting will begin
March 12, 2016 : Early voting ends
March 15, 2016 : NC Primary Election

DOT announces new Secretary of Transit

On Monday the NC Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Keith Weatherly will serve as the new Deputy Secretary of Transit. Weatherly is currently serving that position in an interim capacity and previously served as DOT’s Deputy Secretary of Legislative Affairs and as Interagency Director. Weatherly also previously served as the Mayor of Apex, NC, and Chief of Staff to NC House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam.

Read the NCDOT Press Release here.

NCGA Focuses on Transportation Issues During the 2015 Session

The 2015 session NC transportation and infrastructure needs were at the forefront of the 2015 session. The 2015 Appropriations Act, HB 97, provided $708 million in new, recurring revenue. Further, SB 20, Gas Tax Stabilization, added $450 million in additional transportation funding, reaching a total of $1.158 billion in additional transportation funding over the next two fiscal years, much to the credit and leadership of Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston) and Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick).

Another important transportation bill from the 2015 session was HB 927, Reestablish NC As the “Good Roads State.” HB 927 contained a wide array of long-term infrastructure funding reforms, the majority of provisions passed within the state budget. The detailed plan was led by Rep. Torbett, redefining how the state will collect and spend transportation revenue. Key provisions include cutting the gas tax gas and increasing revenue from other sources – like the highway use tax and vehicle registration fees – while phasing out Highway Trust Fund transfer to the General Fund over four years. Many of these provisions ended up in the budget.

McGuireWoods Consulting and our clients were directly involved in several policy successes, leading efforts with coalitions addressing long-term transportation solutions.

Gas Tax Stabilization
SB 20: IRC Update/Motor Fuel Tax Changes, signed into law at the end of March, implements a new motor fuel tax formula tied to future population growth, streamlines procedures for the long-term delivery of transportation projects and appropriates $70 million for port modernization projects. The new law cuts the gas tax to 36 cents per gallon and phases in a new formula by 2017 that stabilizes the rate changes based on population changes, gradually falling to 34 cents.

2015 Appropriations Act: Transportation Funding
NC General Assembly budget chairs provided $708 million in additional funding for transportation needs in NC in H97: 2015 Appropriations Act. Below are highlights from the transportation section of the budget.

Repeal Highway Fund Transfer
Repeals the transfer of $216 million from the Highway Fund to the General Fund.

Increase DMV fees
All Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fees will increase under the 2015 Appropriations Act, the first time in a decade. The increase in the fees will be used toward funding additional Strategic Transportation Investment projects and DMV modernization. On Monday, Governor McCrory announced that online driver license renewal will be available statewide. The service is one of the changes implemented by the Governor’s “ Driving Change” initiative.

Driver Education
Driver education is fully funded and requires comprehensive data collection and a study of how to improve the program.

Road Funding
The 2015 Appropriations Act provides additional funding for transportation improvements such as $440 million in additional road funding, the amount in new projects was increased by $337 million over the next two fiscal years (2015-16 and 2016-17).

State Funding Caps
H97 caps the state funding for light rail projects at $500,000 per project. Additionally, the legislation increases the statewide cap for turnpike projects from nine to eleven projects total, and requires a study of the Turnpike Authority processing fee, to be reported by March 1, 2016 to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee.

Repairs and Renovations
Additional nonrecurring funding is provided for repair and renovation projects included in NCDOT’s Capital Improvements Plan, $5 million in 2015-16 and almost $7 million in 2016-17.

Waterway and Coastal Improvements
Also provided is additional funding for our waterways and coast, $70 million for port modernization, and over $57 million in FYI 2015-16 and over $89 million in 2016-17 for the bridge program. The Appropriations Act changed the distribution of motor fuel tax revenue to the Shall Draft Navigation Channel & Lake Dredging Fund to 1%, netting $10.96 million in FY 2015-16 and 10.39 million in FY 2016-17 and provided $35 million in recurring funding for the North Carolina State Ports Authority.

Transportation Bills Passed in 2015

H6, Autocycle Definition and Regulation
H91, Study Misuse of Handicapped Parking Placards.
H102, Utility Vehicles/Move-Over Changes
H148, Insurance Required for Mopeds
H232, Study/Update Bicycle Safety Laws
H268, Amend Transportation Laws.-AB
H273, Clarify Cond. Discharge Law/No DWI Expunge.
H288, Insurance Technical Changes.-AB
H350, Restore Driving Privileges/Competency.
H434, Handicap Placard/Med. Recertification.
H529, NC Drivers License Restoration Act.
H800, Clarify Motor Vehicle Dealer Laws.
H924, Highway Safety/Other Changes
H943, Connect NC Bond Act of 2015
S20, IRC Update/Motor Fuel Tax Changes
S43, CDLs for Veterans Revisions
S52, Cities/Means for Activating Parking Meters
S90, Required Number of Operating Brake Lights
S174, Rail Corridor Lease/City of Wilmington
S182, Automatic License Plate Readers.
S195, Motor Vehicle Service Agreement Amendments
S273, Motor Vehicle Tax: Waive Penalties/Interest
S299, Port Usage Contracts/Public Records
S301, DOT/Purchase of Contaminated Land.-AB
S345, Limit Storage Duration for Damaged Vehicle.
S370, E-Signatures/Vehicle Title and Registration.
S446, Dealer Loaners/Unmanned Aircraft/Brunswick Co.
S513, North Carolina Farm Act of 2015
S541, Regulate Transportation Network Companies
S621, Registration Renewal Notice/E-Mail.-AB
S654, Map Act/Clarifications

Legislation to watch in 2016

The following bills are eligible for consideration during the 2016 short session.

Aircrafts
H567, NC Aircraft Repair Act

Auto Insurance
H496 /S428, Surcharge Transparency
S668, Auto Insurance/Allow Optional Enhancements

Fuel Tax Modifications & Finance
H203, Phaseout of Fuel Tax
H257, Clean Fuel Tax Reduction
H685, Cap Amount Owed for Unpaid Open Road Toll
H750, Encourage LNG-Fueled Vehicles
S217, Distribution of Highway Use Tax and Fees

Traffic Safety
H31, 0.00 Alcohol Restriction-All DWI
H32, Amend Habitual DWI
H136, Speed Limit/Highway Work Zone
H328, Highway Safety/Citizens Protection Act
H335, Evidence Passed Vehicle is a School Bus
H338, Fail to Obtain DL/Increase Punishment
H711 /H753, Prohibit Counterfeit/Nonfunctional Air Bags
H877, Ignition Interlock Req’d/All DWI
S298, School Bus Cameras/Civil Penalties
S378, Increase Punishment/Misd. Death by Vehicle
S393, Brian Garlock Act
S417, Habitual Impaired Driving/10-Year Period
S600, Study/Autonomous Vehicles-AB

Motor Vehicle Inspections
H169, Limit Motor Vehicle Emissions Inspections
S200, Eliminate Safety Insp./Modify Emission Insp.

Retail
H479, Auto Salvage Dealer Protection Act
H564, Exempt Motorcoach Manufacturer & Distributor
H594, Clarify Sale of Antique & Specialty Vehicles
S674,Truck Dealer Cost Reimbursement

State & Local Government
H74, MPO/RPO Oversight
H183, Repeal Map Act
H464, Regional Transportation Authority Revisions
H569, Rural County Dev. Funds for Road Const.

Waterways
H93, Eliminate Tolling on Ferries
H663, Repeal Boating Fee Increases
H672, STI and Ferry Tolling Revisions
S113, Ferry Division/Fuel Futures
S160, Enhance Safety & Commerce for Ports/Inlets
S382, RFI/Privatization of Ferry System


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