Michigan bill package would aid local roads

September 27, 2019

Keith Goble

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The Michigan Legislature has moved a 2020 transportation budget proposal to the governor’s desk, but road funding legislation continues to be discussed at the statehouse.

House and Senate lawmakers reached agreement on a $400 million deal to route revenue from the state’s general fund to transportation. The plan using existing revenues to get needed road and bridge work done has moved to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for her signature.

The governor has called for state lawmakers to approve a 45-cent fuel tax increase for Michigan roads and bridges. Her plan would raise $2.5 billion annually for transportation work.

Meanwhile, legislators in both statehouse chambers are pursuing plans to give local governments more tools to get needed road repairs done.

The House package includes one bill to allow county governments to levy a local fuel tax. Sponsored by Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, HB4963 would permit voters in affected areas to decide whether taxes collected would be routed to local road agencies based on population and actual road miles within that county.

“Gov. Whitmer’s massive gas hike idea was unpopular for many reasons, and one of the concerns is the revenue from her plan would have been unfairly distributed to places like metro Detroit,” O’Malley said in prepared remarks. “With a local fuel tax ballot option, if people in a particular county want better roads, they will have the opportunity to pay for them.”

Another bill in the package – HB4964 – would give local governments authority to pursue an additional fee on vehicle registrations. Voters would get the final say.

Other bills in the package include asset management planning and bridge work collaboration.

The House bills – HB4963 through HB4973 – are in the House Transportation Committee. The Senate versions – SB515 through SB524 – are in the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Whitmer has said she is willing to table long-term road funding talks until after Oct. 1 – the deadline to approve a state budget.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.