ICYMI Political News
Voter ID Case
On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court decided not to reinstate NC’s voter ID law by a split decision. In August, Governor Pat McCrory submitted a request to US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to issue a stay on the 4th Circuit Court’s ruling that the state’s voter ID law is unconstitutional. Following the Court’s decision, voter identification will not be required in the state’s November election, or elections following, and early voting will span for 17, not ten days, beginning on October 20, 2016.
Spotlight on Transportation
The following bills were passed by the House and Senate during the short session and have been signed into law by the Governor. If you would like to read more about transportation bills that were signed in law in 2015, please click here.
HB 464: Regional Transportation Authority Changes: Adjusts the composition of the boards of trustees of regional transportation authorities and provides that all members of the board must be voting members. The legislation was signed by the Governor on June 30, 2016 and went into effect on August 1.
HB 594: MV Dealer Doc. Retention/ Inspection/ Format: Modifies the requirements for motor vehicle record retention and provides that dealers must retain either paper records at the dealership or online records that are accessible to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The law went into effect on June 30, 2016 when it was signed by the Governor.
HB 959: DOT Proposed Changes: Makes numerous changes to the state’s transportation laws, including:
- Addresses the Map Act in accordance with the recent state Supreme Court decision. The legislation rescinds all current maps, places a one year moratorium on creating new maps under the act, changes rates from 8% to prime rates, and creates a study for how to move forward.
- Changes to current transportation, motor vehicle, and driving laws. The bill includes changes to commercial driver’s licenses, remote renewal for drivers licenses, bicycle safety laws, and inspection requirements for pre-1981 vehicles.
The law went into effect on July 11, 2016 when it was signed by the Governor.
HB 971: Motor Fleet Clarification: Clarifies that the Department of Administration has the authority to contract with private vendors for the short-term rental of motor vehicles to be used by state agencies. The legislation went into effect when it was signed by the Governor on June 22, 2016.
HB 1126: Red Light Cameras/ City of Greenville: Allows the City of Greenville to implement a red light camera program. Drivers who are detected by the system will be assessed a $100 fee. The legislation was signed by the Governor on June 30, 2016 and goes into effect on October 1.
Transportation Budget Provisions
- Exempts all but three ferry routes in the state from tolling.
- Creates a Ferry System Wide Reserve Fund to be used for repairing and replacing vessels and provides $6 million for ferry system modernization.
- Directs NCDOT assess an annual priority boarding charge of $150 to vehicles that provide commercial goods and services.
- Increases the NCDOT bid threshold from contracts over $2.5 million to $5 million.
- Directs NCDOT to report recommendations on revising the method used for outsourcing preconstruction activities to the General Assembly’s House and Senate Transportation Appropriations committees by March 1, 2017.
- Provides that the state’s total funding for a commuter rail or light rail project cannot exceed 10% of the estimated total project costs. Prior to the passage of HB 1030, there was a $500,000 cap on light rail funding.
- Expands the list of project types that can be funded by the Freight Rail & Rail Crossing Safety Improvement Fund to include all short-line rail projects and improvements to rail line corridors in NC and through portions of neighboring states for the purpose of connecting with the national railroad system; increases the fund’s annual appropriation by $13.8 million.
- Prohibits the use of chip seal treatment on subdivision streets.
- Directs the DMV to contract with a private vendor for the statewide maintenance of the Crash Reporting Program.
- Increases funding for advertising to promote DMV modernization initiatives by $500,000.
- Increases annual funding for urban transit system operation by $2 million.
- Increases funding for state aid to airports by $14.8 million.
- Restores $9.04 million in funding for the 2016-17 fiscal year for inmate road squads and litter crews.
- Provides funding for the administration of the Connect NC Bond.
- Appropriation of $32 million in new funds allocated for Strategic Transportation Investments.
HB 3: Omnibus Constitutional Amendments: This legislation would have put three constitutional amendments on November’s ballot, one of which would have limited eminent domain. Had the legislation passed, voters across the state would have voted for or against prohibiting condemnation of private property except for public uses. If passed, the legislation also directed that property owners could request that a jury determine just compensation for the property.
HB 877: Ignition Interlock Req’d/ All DWIs: Would have required an ignition interlock device to be installed into the vehicle of all individuals convicted of an impaired driving offense. The legislation would have also removed the waiting period to apply for limited driving privileges so long as the device had been installed on all vehicles the driver may operate.
HB 954: Terminate Agreement for Tolling of I-77: Would have terminated the contract between the state and Cintra, the company contracted to construct toll lanes on I-77, outside of Charlotte.
HB 985: Modify Sales Tax on Automobiles: This legislation would have excluded repair, maintenance and installation services on motor vehicles from NC’s sales and use tax.
HB 1003: DOT to Study SEPA Reform Efforts: Would have directed NCDOT to study the fiscal impacts of the State Environmental Protection Act on transportation project permitting.
HB 1050: DOT/ No Discrimination Against Motorcyclists: Would have prohibited NCDOT from taking an action that discriminates against motorcyclists and would have directed all future parking structures funded by the state to make reasonable accommodations for motorcyclists.
HB 1066: DOT/ Roadside Memorials: Would have directed NCDOT to create a program for individuals to apply for small permanent memorials for family members who have died in a car accident at the cost of the family.
HB 1092: DOT Outside Counsel/ Bidding Process: Would have required NCDOT to use a competitive bidding process and solicit at least three bids for all contracts for outside legal counsel.
HB 1106: Modify Uses of Connect NC Bonds: Would have placed a referendum on the November ballot to ask voters whether or not they are in favor of re-allocating $490 million of the Connect NC Bond to the construction and renovation of highways, roads and bridges across the state.
SB 798: Distribution of Highway Use Tax and Fees: Would have adjusted the distribution of the highway use taxes collected on the short-term lease or rental of vehicles to annually appropriate $35 million to the NC State Ports Authority and $21 million to the Division of Aviation for capital improvements to public airports.
SB 812: Ferry Tolling/ Replacement Funds: Would have amended the current law concerning the management of the state’s ferry system. The legislation would have eliminated all ferry tolls and would have appropriated $32.095 million annually for the replacement and operation of vessels.