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2007 plan becomes law in 2008 (new law)

Published (5/16/2008)
By Mike Cook
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A bill awaiting legislative action when the final gavel fell in 2007 is now law, sans an objectionable provision.

The 2007 omnibus transportation policy signed law, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty May 8, is sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing). It addresses, in part, traffic regulations, vehicle registration, Transportation Department planning reports, towing authority, Metropolitan Council planning, railway safety and truck weight restrictions. The law is effective Aug. 1, 2008, unless otherwise noted.

The bill changed slightly since 2007, including shifting effective dates from 2007 to 2008; removing obsolete or duplicative provisions, such as things included in the transportation finance law passed earlier this year; and updating some verbiage.

The final product does not include language about the state’s refusal to comply with federal REAL I.D. Act language, which is designed to enhance homeland security, reduce identity fraud and help with illegal immigration issues. States have called it an unfunded mandate, and others have questioned the security associated with the plan and have expressed concern about data privacy issues.

A previous attempt (HF1351*/SF1971/CH239) vetoed April 25 by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said that if federal dollars would pay at least 95 percent of state costs, Minnesota could comply with the act. Pawlenty said just because the federal government’s response is “not complete or finalized” doesn’t mean the state shouldn’t begin preparations to implement the change.

If state licenses are not in federal compliance by the end of 2009, Minnesotans would be unable to use their driver’s license or state identification card for air travel or to enter federal buildings.

Other provisions in the bill include:

• MnDOT is to report to the Legislature by Nov. 1, 2009, on the state’s long-term transportation needs and strategies to meet them;

• MnDOT is to submit a report on Jan. 15 of each year on the status of major highway projects — at least a $25 million price tag in the Twin Cities metropolitan area or $10 million in Greater Minnesota — under construction or planned during the current and ensuing 15 years;

• the reopening of the Culkin Rest Area on Interstate 35 between Hinckley and Duluth, effective May 9, 2008;

• Interstate 94 in the state is designated the “Purple Heart Trail,” Highway 210 between Staples and Motley is designated the “Dallas Sams Memorial Highway,” part of Highway 53 in Duluth is designated “Walter F. Mondale Drive” and the causeway over Pokegema Lake on Highway 169 is designated the “Jim Oberstar Causeway”;

• effective May 9, 2008, a commercial motor vehicle operator subject to federal hours of service can park continuously for up to 10 hours at any MnDOT rest area or travel information center that has parking stalls designed to accommodate a commercial motor vehicle;

• a Public Safety Department report on Internet-based driver education for the instruction permit component is due the Legislature by Feb. 15, 2009; and

• by Feb. 1, 2009, the Public Safety Department is to submit a proposal that would allow deputy registrars and driver’s license agents to accept credit and debit card payments of vehicle registration taxes, title transactions and driver’s license and identification card fees.


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