- The state-wide hands-free cell phone has passed both legislative bodies and has been signed into law by the Governor. It will go into effect August 1st, 2019.
- The ability for workzone flaggers to call -in drivers to law enforcement who disobey directives has passed all committees in both the House and Senate and is awaiting floor action.
- The language which would require a bid item for flaggers on a project has been dealt with outside of legislation. MAPA has negotiated some remedies with MnDOT to address this concern.
- The Governor has proposed a 20-cent gas tax increase with indexing, along with an increase in tab fees, motor vehicles sales tax, a metro sales tax for transit, and $2 billion in bonding over 8 years. It includes a “claw-back” of any transportation-related money from the general fund. Leaving the net increase in terms of gas tax to about 13 cents.
- The Senate (GOP) has proposed a bill that does not include new revenue for transportation this year.
- The House bill is similar to the Governor’s proposal, a notable difference is that its gas tax proposal includes indexing to the National Highway Construction Cost Index, rather than the Consumer Products Index, as encouraged by MAPA. This would more closely correlate the tax inflator to the cost of the construction materials.
What will happen? The negotiations around the transportation package will most likely be a part of global discussions and “trades” including federal tax conformity and the health care provider tax. There appears to be little support among the GOP for any transportation investments, let alone a gas tax increase. They may leverage this position for wins in other areas.
Governor Walz ran on a 10 cent gas tax increase and won handily. We are likely to see this happen within his 4 year term, it may not be this year.
A few weeks ago, one of Minnesota’s freshman US Congressman, Representative Pete Stauber (MN-08) introduced legislation that would require states to conduct a Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) on infrastructure projects that use more than $30 million in federal funds. This legislation is backed by the concrete industry and is similar to the recent effort by former MN Congressman Jason Lewis.
While Minnesota is an LCCA state, it is a challenge to make sure inputs are accurate and take into consideration all costs associated with a piece of infrastructure.
MAPA will be meeting with Congressman Stauber in his Minnesota district office to voice concerns.