Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fiscal Year 2015 Budget – Transportation

In case you missed it, today marks the second day of debate on the House Ways & Means Fiscal Year 2015 Budget.

As you may have heard, the House of Representatives recently unveiled their $36.2 billion state budget proposal. While the Democratic-majority set an unfortunate tone to this year’s budget debate by refusing to consider amendments relative to local aid, education spending, and welfare reform, the House Republican Caucus will not be deterred.

During this year’s budget debate, House Republican’s firmly believe that the Legislature must make considerable strides in delivering a budget that is mindful of the economic times, while producing a spending plan that delivers an accountable and transparent state government which reflects the taxpayers’ priorities, and seeks to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.

This afternoon’s debate will now shift its focus to amendments relative to transportation. Below, you will find the amendments offered by House Republicans, along with a brief description of the amendment.

Amendment 22 - Electric Vehicle Plug-In Registration (Jones, Bradley) ADDS a new outside section instituting a supplemental registration fee for fully electric vehicles. Funds from said fee are to be deposited into the Commonwealth Transportation Fund for infrastructure costs in the state.

Amendment 252 - An Act Relative to Motor Vehicles turning their lights on in bad weather (Hill, Bradford) ADDS a new outside section requiring motor vehicles operating in weather requiring the use of windshield wipers to turn on their headlights. Violations of this law will be a $35 fine.

Amendment 279 - Transportation Safety (Howitt, Steven) EARMARKS $125K from the Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fund (1595-6368) for traffic lights at the intersection of Route 44 and Arcade Ave in Seekonk. Does not increase overall appropriation.

Amendment 504 - Prohibit Open Road Tolling (Cole, Leah) ADDS a new outside section prohibiting electronic tolling.

Amendment 518 - New Open Road Tolling (Cole, Leah) ADDS a new outside section prohibiting the implementation of new electronic tolling in the Commonwealth in which vehicles access tolls at speeds in excess of 15 miles per hour.

Amendment 544 - Culvert Repair in Groveland (Mirra, Leonard) EARMARKS $2.3K from the Mass Transportation Trust Fund (1595-6368) for the repair and maintenance of a culvert in Groveland.

Amendment 687 - Decreasing Vehicle Registration Frequency (Diehl, Geoff) ADDS a new outside section decreasing the frequency of car registration and the $40 fee associated with it from every two years to three years.

Amendment 704 - MBTA Revolving Door Prevention (Diehl, Geoff) ADDS a new outside section requiring a board member of the MBTA pension board who acts as a lobbyist for anyone other than the Commonwealth, MBTA, or a state agency may not do so until five years after leaving state service.

Amendment 728 - Ensuring the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other motorists (Diehl, Geoff) ADDS a new outside section raising the fine from $35 to $200 for failing to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk in an intersection. This section also inserts a new paragraph instituting a $500 fine for a violation that results in bodily injury and suspension of a driver’s or commercial license for no less than 90 days. If the accident results in a death, the person faces a $1K fine and license suspension for no less than 180 days.

Amendment 997 - Snow and Ice Removal (Vieira, David) ADDS a new outside section authorizing the Commonwealth to incur an unspecified level of liabilities in excess of appropriation for snow and ice removal.

Amendment 1118 - The Department of Transportation Yellow Dot Program (Durant, Peter) ADDS new outside sections establishing the Department of Transportation Yellow Dot Program. The Yellow Dot Program is a voluntary program of the RMV to assist drivers and passengers who choose to participate and emergency medical personnel in reporting critical medical information in the event of an accident or medical emergency.

Amendment1122 - EZ-ID License Plate Task Force (Smola, Todd) ADDS a new outside section that creates an EZ-ID License Plate Task Force. The task force will consist of 16 members, including minority appointments, and will study the feasibility of a registration plate system utilizing enhanced recognition and identification registration plates. The task force will submit a report to the Legislature by December 31, 2014, including the cost both short term and long term to the Commonwealth, time frame of implementation, and the impact on federal, state and local law enforcement and between the states.

Amendment 1128 - Ensuring Turnpike Tolls Come Down (Frost, Paul) ADDS a new outside section ensuring the Turnpike tolls are removed, when either all bonds relating to the Turnpike have been paid off or by January 1, 2017, whichever comes first.