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Fee compliance, funds for road work

Published (6/1/2010)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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Through the lawmaking process, a bill can substantially change by the time it hits the governor’s desk. That’s the case with a new law sponsored by Rep. Mike Obermueller (DFL-Eagan) and Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing).

Originally passed by the House and Senate as a “complete streets” concept, it would have moved the state toward a policy where any state-aid funded road project must consider the impact the roadway would have on the people who use it and the surrounding area. However, a conference committee deleted that language and agreed to a bill that will establish a new specialty license plate, appropriate money for transportation tax compliance, and authorize the sale of state bonds for transportation needs. The complete streets language was instead included in the transportation policy omnibus. Laws 2010, CH 351.

The new law allows for the sale of $100.1 million in trunk highway bonds for state road construction and reconstruction in fiscal year 2011.

• $70 million is to be equally split between the Twin Cities metropolitan area and Greater Minnesota for trunk highway interchange improvements that will promote economic development, increase employment, relieve traffic congestion and promote traffic safety;

• $30 million is for construction, reconstruction and improvement of trunk highways, including design-build contracts for right-of-way acquisitions and relocation expenses; and

• $100,000 for bond sale expenses.

The bonding provision is effective May 28, 2010.

Since 1998, the Vehicle Crimes Unit of the Minnesota State Patrol has investigated unpaid motor vehicle taxes and dealer fraud as it relates to registration fees and taxes, and residents who register their vehicles in another state because the fees are less expensive. Staffing for the unit has decreased over time.

The new law reallocates $191,000 in State Patrol funding (by shifting fund sources) and makes an additional $50,000 appropriation in fiscal year 2011 for beefed up tax compliance. The efforts could bring an estimated $202,000 over the remainder of the biennium to the state. It also sets base appropriations for the program amounting to $743,000 in each of fiscal years 2012 and 2013, reflecting increased State Patrol staffing for the program. The unit’s work is expected to yield an additional $807,000 per year in 2012 and 2013. A report on generated revenues is due the Legislature by Feb. 1, 2015. This provision is effective July 1, 2010.

The law also establishes a new Remembering Victims of Impaired Drivers license plate that along with the words, will display an image of a broken heart. The $10 fee for the specialty plate will be credited to the vehicle services operating account in the special revenue fund. This is effective Aug. 1, 2013.

HF2801*/ SF2461/CH388

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