The legislative process slows down over summer (not necessarily a bad thing) since most state legislatures are in recess and won’t resume their business until next year. However, we did see a few notable proposals that required our members’ attention in the third quarter of 2015, which we will summarize below.
Alerting members to important legislation is one the NMA’s most important functions. That’s why our completely redesigned, soon-to-be-released website will include enhancements to our legislative alert archive. The new alert posting format will include an up-front summary section so you can get the basics of the bill, along with our position on it, at a glance. The new site will also allow us to post legislative alerts more prominently on each state page as well as on the main home page.
If you’re interested in tracking legislation on your own, check out www.openstates.org. It provides information on state-level legislation for all 50 states, is easily searchable and sends updates directly to your inbox. You can also find out who your legislators are, what bills they’ve sponsored, how they voted on recent bills and how to get in touch with them.
The NMA supported the efforts of Senator John Moorlach, who recently issued a stark critique of the state of California’s transportation funding along with the condition of its roads. You can read the entire piece here (it’s short), but here’s a summary: California gas taxes are the fourth highest in the nation, and the state takes in $10.6 billion annually in gas tax and transportation fees. Yet, only 20 percent of that revenue is spent on road repair and new construction, Meanwhile, California’s roads rank near the bottom in every category. The NMA encouraged California members to contact their legislators and demand that state transportation officials devote a higher percentage of road-user fees to actual road repair and expansion.
The NMA opposed a push by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Interstate Highway System in the House, to expand interstate tolling in its Highway Reauthorization Bill. More information is available at www.tollfreeinterstates.com.
The NMA opposed Senate Bill 840, which would allow speed camera enforcement in highway work zones. The bill has passed the Senate Transportation Committee.
The NMA opposed the renewal of the red-light camera contract in Abington Township. The township board voted to extend the contract for three years.
Last year the NMA supported a law to prohibit the release of driver’s license information to any city seeking to issue a camera-based ticket to a South Dakota driver. The intent was to protect state residents from the predatory practices associated with red-light and speed cameras. Yet, South Dakota drivers are still receiving out-of-state camera tickets, primarily from cities in neighboring Iowa. Clearly the cities and the camera companies have contracted with third-party data providers to retrieve vehicle registration information necessary to process and send such tickets. The existing law doesn’t go far enough, and the NMA has called for further prohibitions on the ability to issue out-of-state camera tickets to South Dakota drivers.
Thanks to the many NMA members who volunteered their time to send emails, write letters, make phone calls, and work with policymakers and media outlets on these important issues. If you’re not signed up to receive legislative alerts but would like to, use the “Choose Your NMA E-Subscriptions” link in the sidebar of this email.