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Transportation policy bill from 2011 is passed

published 4/27/2012
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Speed limit violations, online driver’s education training and dollars for organ donation are part of an omnibus transportation policy bill that was passed by the House.

Sponsored by Rep. Michael Beard (R-Shakopee), HF1284 is mostly what was proposed in the 2011 omnibus bill that was awaiting floor action when last session concluded.

Following the 121-8 vote, the bill awaits Senate action. Sen. Joe Gimse (R-Willmar) is the Senate sponsor.

In part, the bill would prohibit speed limit violations of up to 10 mph over the limit in 55 mph and 60 mph zones from going on a driver’s record. Currently, a ticket does not appear on someone’s driving record if the person was driving up to 10 mph over the speed limit in a 55 mph zone, or 5 mph over the limit in a 60 mph zone.

“Speeding is one of the leading causes of deaths on Minnesota highways,” said Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls), who said the Department of Public Safety is against the provision. “This decreases the consequences of speeding.”

Other provisions in the bill include:
• allowing a person under age 18 to complete the classroom/theory portion of driver’s education online through a program approved by the Department of Public Safety;
• preventing prohibition of electronic-assisted bicycles on any state trail where bikes are allowed, unless there is a safety issue;
• allowing payment of driver's license and identification card fees by credit or debit card, and authorizing driver's license agents to impose a convenience fee;
• designating part of Interstate 35 in Rice County as the “Deputy John W. Liebenstein Memorial Highway,” and designating a pedestrian bridge over Highway 14 in Rochester as the “Arianna Celeste MacNamara Memorial Bridge”;
• expanding the authority for buses to operate on freeway or expressway shoulders so that counties and towns having jurisdiction over the road can authorize the buses; and
• requiring the Driver and Vehicle Services Division of the Department of Public Safety to include a mechanism for vehicle owners to donate $2 for organ donation educational programs as part of an in-person payment of vehicle registration taxes.

“There’s a good number of bipartisan provisions in the bill,” Hornstein said.

Rep. Joe McDonald (R-Delano) successfully amended the bill to require a license plate only on the back bumper of a vehicle. He said this would save more than $1 million over a biennium. Opponent noted that law enforcement has concerns with this proposed change.

An amendment successfully offered by Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) would prohibit the Department of Transportation from constructing a J-turn at the intersection of Highway 53 and County Road 52 in Cotton Township.

- Mike Cook

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