PA House Democrats Introduce Transportation Funding Reform Bills
Posted by Shayne Trimbell January 12, 2012
In late 2011, Representative Mike Hanna (D-76) and Representative Dan Frankel (D-23) introduced three pieces of legislation that greatly reform the way in which Pennsylvania funds its transportation system. The three bills are very close to the three bills introduced by Senator Jake Corman (R-34) in to the Senate in November 2011. The three bills follow the recommendations of the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC) Report which was release in August 2011. Governor Tom Corbett has not publicly supported either the report in August or the subsequent bills in the House and the Senate.
The transportation funding reform is more than funding reform bills, they are also modernize PennDOT, and generate savings within the department. The three bills, HB 2099, HB 2101, and HB 2112 address each of these issues in a very similar fashion to Senate Bills SB 4, SB 1326, and SB 1327.
HB 2099 amends the Title 75 by increasing the fees PennDOT collects on such things as driver’s licenses, vehicle registration, violations of traffic control devices, and also sets the minimum average wholesale price of motor vehicle fuels. Included is an increase from $36 for vehicle registration to $49. Penalties for traffic control device violations will be increased to $75, not including any other fees or infractions the violation may involve. The bill also addresses the “average wholesale price” of motor vehicle fuels. The “average wholesale price” is the price that the state is able to tax motor vehicle fuels when it is before it is sold on the retail market. The current average wholesale price is capped at $1.25 per gallon, or rather, the state is only allowed to tax the first $1.25 of wholesale fuel sales. HB 2099 ramps this price up to $2.70 by 2017, but also does not limit the wholesale price at $2.70.
HB 2101 amends Title 75 to create an Intermodal Transportation Fund, amend the vehicle registration and driver’s license renewal periods, changes penalties imposed for driving without insurance, modifies regulations governing the use of radar speed control, changes inspection requirements for new cars, and allows for advertising revenue along state owned right of way. The Intermodal Transportation Fund will be a dedicated fund that directs investments in aviation, rail freight, passenger rail, ports, and waterways. This was a recommendation in the TFAC report, as these areas of transportation are drastically underfunded at the state level. To offset the increased expenses of HB 2099, Pennsylvania drivers will benefit from expanding vehicle registration from one year to two and no more registration stickers. New cars will also be made exempt from needing a safety inspection during the first two years. The bill will allow for third party driver’s license exam centers to administer and issue a driver’s license; the tests will not differ to those administered by the state. The bill increases the penalty for driving without insurance to $500 for reinstatement prior to the three month suspension. Included in the bill is a provision that will allow PennDOT contractors the use of electronic speed monitoring (radar) within a work zone. Lastly, the bill will allow for PennDOT to lease space for commercial advertising where it is not prohibited by Federal law.
The text of HB 2112 was not made available at the time this was written, however a summary was available and it appears as though the bill will amend Act 44 of 2007 to shift the entirety of the $450 million annual payment made by PennDOT by the PA Turnpike into a mass transit fund. The money will be solely available for mass transit systems throughout the state. The bill will also increase the portion of the state sales tax which is directed to mass transit. Currently the portion of the sales tax dedicated to mass transit is 4.4%, under HB 2112 it will increase to 6.5%.
These three bills compliment, and are almost identical to the three Senate bills. It is the hope of many legislators, transportation officials, and those in the transportation industry that 2012 is the year Pennsylvania begins to solve the problem of infrastructure funding.