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Tom Bottern
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   Senate   
State of Minnesota
 
 
 
 
 
S.F. No. 1904 - Transportation Funding Bill (SS1904 Division Report)
 
Author: Senator D. Scott Dibble
 
Prepared By: Krista Boyd, Senate Fiscal Analyst (651/296-7681)
 
Date: April 23, 2015



 

Article 1 - Transportation and Public Safety Appropriations

Section 1 lists the summary of all appropriations by fund.  Total direct appropriations to the Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Council transit, and administration and transportation-related activities of the Department of Public Safety for the 2016-17 biennium are $6.457 billion.

Section 2 states that all appropriations in this article are from the trunk highway fund unless another fund is specified. 

Section 3. Department of Transportation.

Subdivision 1. Total MnDOT Appropriations.  Contains the total appropriations to the Department of Transportation by fund.

Subdivision 2. Multimodal systems. 

  1. Aeronautics.
    1. Appropriates $19.798 million in FY16 and FY17 for airport development and assistance, including one-time appropriations of $5.5 million a year.
    2. Appropriates $6.661 million in FY16 and FY 17 for aviation support and services.  $80,000 in each year is for the Civil Air Patrol.
    3. Appropriates $5.0 million in FY16 from the general fund for the purchase of a state airplane. This is a onetime appropriation.
  2. Transit. Appropriates $27.543 million in FY16 and $27.567 million in FY17 for Greater Minnesota transit.  Of these amounts, $100,000 in each year is for the expenses of the Minnesota Council on Transportation Access, $500,000 in each year is for safe routes to school non-infrastructure activities, and $3.0 million in each year is for bicycle, pedestrian, and safe routes to school non-infrastructure projects under the Active Transportation program.
  3. Rail.  Appropriates $500,000 in FY16 and FY17 for passenger rail planning, analysis, design and engineering.
  4. Freight. Appropriates $6.7 million in FY16 and $6.852 million in FY17 for freight purposes, of which $143,000 in the first year is for a grant to the Minnesota Commercial Railway for emergency track repairs and $1.4 million a year is from the rail grade crossing safety improvement account for the costs of a Rail Safety Administration office.

Subdivision 3. State Roads.

  1. Operations and Maintenance.  Appropriates $284.03 million in FY16 and $297.185 million in FY17 for operations and maintenance.
  2. Program Planning and Delivery.  Appropriates $249.214 million in FY16 and $263.625 million in FY17 for state road system investment and planning.  Of these appropriations:
  • $130,000 in each year is for administrative costs of the targeted group business program;
  • $266,000 in each year is for grants to metropolitan planning organizations outside the seven-county metro area;
  • $75,000 in each year is for a transportation research contingent account for federally-reimbursable projects;
  • $900,000 in each year is for transportation studies grants outside the metropolitan area; and
  • $1 million in each year is for management of contaminated and regulated material on MNDOT property.
  1. State Road Construction. Appropriates $967.48 million in FY16 and $1.026 billion in FY17 from the trunk highway fund for construction and improvement of trunk highways.  Of these amounts:
    • $10 million in each year is for transfer to the transportation economic development account in the trunk highway fund;
    • $5 million in FY16 is for the construction of noise barriers on trunk highways;
    • $2 million in FY16 is for transfer to the state right-of-way acquisition loan account; and
    • $50 million in FY16 and $55 million in FY17 is for transfer to the county turnback account. 

The commissioner may expend state road construction appropriations for land acquisition on corridors of commerce projects.

  1. Highway Debt Service.  Appropriates $197.519 million in FY16 and $240.307 million in FY17 for highway debt service.  Allows the Commissioner of Management and Budget to transfer an additional amount if this appropriation is insufficient to make all transfers required in a given year.
  2. Electronic Communications.  Appropriates $5.323 million in FY16 and $5.483 million in FY17 from the trunk highway fund for electronic communications.  An additional $3,000 in each year is appropriated from the general fund to equip and operate the Roosevelt signal tower.

Subdivision 4. Local Roads.

  1. County State Aid Roads.  Appropriates $771.167 million in FY16 and $850.253 million in FY17 from the county state aid highway fund for distribution to counties.
  2. Municipal State Aid Roads.  Appropriates $210.467 million in FY16 and $237.802 million in FY17 from the municipal state aid street fund for distribution to cities with a population of over 5,000.
  3. City Streets and Bridges. Appropriates $28.8 million in each year from the city streets and bridges account, and $28.8 million in each year from the larger city streets and bridges account.  Both accounts are in the special revenue fund.
  4. Local Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation. Appropriates $11 million from the general fund to replace or rehabilitate local deficient bridges.
  5. Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Safe Routes to Schools. Appropriates $2.5 million in each year from the general fund for infrastructure activities in the safe routes to school program.
  6. Highways on Tribal Lands. Appropriates $5 million in FY16 from the general fund for maintenance, design, or construction of highways on tribal lands.

Subdivision 5.  Agency Management.

  1. Agency Services.  Appropriates $42.722 million in FY16 and $43.519 million in FY17 for department support.
  2. Buildings. Appropriates $18.722 million in FY16 and $19.321 million in FY17 for building needs.
  3. Tort Claims. Appropriates $600,000 in each year from the trunk highway fund for tort claims. This appropriation was previously made for the same purpose to the commission of management and budget. 

Subdivision 6.  Previous State Road Construction Appropriations.  Specifies that money appropriated for state road construction for any fiscal year before FY16 is available during FY16 and FY17 provided the money is spent on the project for which the money was originally encumbered during the fiscal year for which it was appropriated.  The commissioner must report to the legislature by August 1 of each year on expenditures made under this subdivision.

Subdivision 7.  Contingent Appropriation.  Allows the commissioner, with approval of the Governor and written approval by the majority of a group consisting of the Legislative Advisory Commission and ranking minority members of the House and Senate transportation finance committees, to transfer all or part of the balance in the trunk highway fund to an appropriation: (1) for trunk highway design, construction, or inspection in order to take advantage of an unanticipated receipt of income or federal advance construction funding; (2) for trunk highway maintenance in order to meet an emergency; or (3) to pay tort or environmental claims. Specifies that any transfer as a result of using federal advance construction funding must include an analysis of the effects on the long-term trunk highway fund balance. Does not authorize commissioner to increase federal advanced construction funding beyond specifically authorized amounts.

Section 4.  Metropolitan Council.  Appropriates $52.249 million in FY16 and $61.63 million FY17 for metropolitan transit system operations.

Section 5.  Department of Public Safety.

Subdivision 1. Total Public Safety Appropriations.  Contains the total appropriations to the Department of Public Safety transportation-related programs by fund.

Subdivision 2. Administration and Related Services. 

  1. Office of Communications.  Appropriates $517,000 in FY16 and $530,000 in FY17 for the office of communications.
  2. Public Safety Support.  Appropriates $8.715 million in FY16 and $8.804 million in FY17 for public safety support.  Specifies that $130,000 each year is for the additional position of labor relations manager, $380,000 each year is for payment of public safety survivor benefits; $1.367 million each year is for the public safety officer’s benefit account; and $700,000 each year is for soft body armor reimbursements. 
  3. Technology and Support Service.  Appropriates $3.685 million in FY16 and FY17 for technical support services.

Subdivision 3. State Patrol. 

  1. Patrolling Highways.   Appropriates $81.756 million in FY16 and $83.857 million in FY17 for patrolling highways, of which $693,000 is from the highway user tax distribution fund for the Vehicle Crimes Unit, and $500,000 is from the trunk highway fund for the purchase of a single engine aircraft for the State Patrol.
  2. Commercial vehicle enforcement.  Appropriates $8.023 million in FY16 and $8.257 million in FY17 for commercial vehicle enforcement.
  3. Capitol Security. Appropriates $8.035 million in FY16 and $8.147 million in FY17 from the general fund for capitol security.

Subdivision 4. Driver and Vehicle Services. 

  1. Vehicle Services.   Appropriates $30.027 million in FY16 and $30.291 million in FY17 for vehicle services, of which $59,000 in each year is for the creation of a Data Services Unit.    
  2. Driver Services.  Appropriates $30.151 million in FY16 and $30.655 million in FY17 for driver services, of which $31,000 in each year is for the creation of a Data Services Unit, and $74,000 in FY 16 and $124,000 in FY17 is for staff costs related to insurance attestation requirements. 

Subdivision 5. Traffic Safety.  Appropriates $446,000 in FY16 and $457,000 in FY17 for the Office of Traffic Safety.

Subdivision 6. Pipeline Safety.  Appropriates $1.371 million in FY16 and $1.388 million in FY17 for pipeline safety.

Section 6.  Department of Revenue.  Appropriates $234,000 in FY16 and $222,000 in FY17 from the highway user tax distribution fund to the commissioner of management and budget for costs associated with administering the gross receipts tax on motor fuels.

Section 7.  Board of Water and Soil Resources and Department of Natural Resources.  Appropriates $270,000 in fiscal year 2016 from the state aid administrative account in the county state-aid highway fund to the Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Commissioner of Natural Resources.  The appropriation is for a study on the feasibility of the state assuming administration of the section 404 permit program of the federal Clean Water Act, relating to regulation of the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States.  The appropriation is available until June 30, 2017, and the study must be reported to the Legislature by January 15, 2017.

Section 8. Transfer.  Transfers $3.0 million a year from the general fund to the greater Minnesota active transportation account in the special revenue fund. These are onetime transfers.

Section 9. Appropriation. Appropriates $8,000 in each year to the Legislative Coordinating Commission for expenses related to the road-user charge working group.

Article 2 – Trunk Highway Bonding

Section 1 authorizes the sale of $1.001 billion in trunk highway bonds.

Section 2 appropriates $1 billion from the trunk highway bond fund to the Commissioner of Transportation, and $1 million to the Commissioner of Management and Budget.

Section 3 provides that, of the total appropriation, $800 million is for corridors of commerce, to be available over four years from FY2016-FY2019.

Section 4 provides that, of the total appropriation, $200 million is for the transportation economic development program, to be available over four years from FY2016-FY2019.

Section 5 provides that the $1 million appropriation to the Commissioner of Management and Budget is for bond sale expenses, to be available over four years from FY2016-FY2019.

Section 6 makes this article effective July 1, 2015.

Article 3 – Gross Receipts Tax

Section 1 authorizes the Commissioner of Revenue to cancel or decline to renew a petroleum dealer’s license for failure to file a gross receipts tax return for at least one year.

Section 2 establishes the motor fuels gross receipts tax.

Subdivision 1 imposes a tax on the wholesale business of selling the means or substance used for propelling vehicles on the highways of this state.  The rate is 6.5 percent of a distributor’s gross receipts from the first sale at wholesale of gasoline and special fuels.

Subdivision 2 exempts certain entities from payment of the tax by incorporating existing statutory exemptions from the motor fuels and special fuels tax.

Subdivision 3 provides for conversion of the tax rate to cost per gallon, which is the greater of 6.5 percent of $2.50 per gallon, or 6.5 percent of the previous year’s average wholesale gasoline price per gallon in Minnesota.  The total of the applicable rate, which remains in effect from October 1 to September 30, together with the gasoline tax must be published on the department’s Web site.

Subdivision 4 applies Minnesota Statutes, chapter 289A to the administration of this tax.

Subdivision 5 directs the commissioner to deposit the revenues into the highway user tax distribution fund.

The section is effective October 1, 2015, and applies to gross receipts derived on or after that day.

Sections 3 to 5 insert references to the gross receipts tax into current law dealing with the gasoline tax, relating to tax collection, other taxes, and refund or credit of tax paid.

Section 6 instructs the Revisor of Statutes to rename Chapter 296A “Tax on Petroleum and Other Fuels; Gross Receipts Tax.”

Article 4 – Vehicle Registration Tax

Section 1 increases the vehicle registration tax due on passenger automobiles from $10 to $20, effective July 1, 2018.  It increases the additional tax from 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent of base value, subject to the depreciation schedule which is unchanged.  The section eliminates the provision that caps a registration amount at the smallest amount previously paid on the same vehicle that was registered in Minnesota.  This section is effective the day following final enactment and applies to registration periods beginning on or after September 1, 2015.

Article 5 – Metropolitan Transit Improvement Area Sales Tax

Sections 1 to 4 amend provisions of the statute that imposes the existing ¼-cent sales tax for transit in the metropolitan area.

Section 1 eliminates two definitions—one defines “committee” as the GEARS Committee, and one defines “population.”

Section 2 removes a reference to the GEARS Committee in the joint powers subdivision.

Section 3 removes provisions relating to GEARS and establishing its membership.  The subdivision also eliminates obsolete language.

Section 4 modifies the uses to which the ¼-cent sales tax proceeds may be put by the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB).  Expenditures on capital improvements to transitways include highway bus rapid transit.  CTIB may fund the remaining cost of planning, engineering, and construction of transitways after expected contributions by regional railroad authorities and federal contributions.  CTIB is authorized to use tax proceeds for 50 percent of operating costs of transitways that commenced revenue operations before September 30, 2015; 100 percent of operating costs of Robert Street and Riverview Corridor transitways; and remaining capital costs.

Section 5 establishes the metropolitan transit improvement area sales tax.

Subdivision 1 defines terms, including the “metropolitan transit improvement area” as including the five counties of Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington.

Subdivision 2 imposes the metropolitan transit improvement area transit sales tax at a rate of three-quarters of one percent on retail sales and uses within the five-county area.

Subdivision 3 provides for administration, collection, and enforcement of the tax, as the general sales tax is administered.

Subdivision 4 allocates the revenues as follows:  costs of collection to the Commissioner of Revenue, 8.5 percent of the net proceeds to the Counties Transit Improvement Board, and the remainder to the Metropolitan Council.

Subdivision 5 directs the Metropolitan Council to utilize the proceeds of the tax as provided in this section, funding only projects that are consistent with the Council’s long-range transportation policy plan and located within the five-county area.

Subdivision 6 states priorities for the Council’s use of the money to be payment of:

  • debt service;
  • proportional distribution to the five counties of 1/8 of the tax proceeds (including the ¼ cent collected under current law) to be used by each county for roads with a transit nexus or for transit projects, except for Hennepin County, which is limited to transit projects;
  • costs otherwise authorized in subdivision 7.

Subdivision 7 identifies permissible uses by the Council for the sales tax proceeds, after deduction of collection costs and the 8.5 percent for CTIB, including:

  • operating and capital costs to preserve and operate the existing bus/transitway system;
  • grants for regional bicycle, trail and pedestrian infrastructure, safe routes to school infrastructure, and active transportation programs (utilizing ten percent of sales tax revenues from entire one cent tax for this purpose);
  • expansion of transit system (four percent average annual service increase, including suburban transit), transitways, streetcars, and arterial bus rapid transit;
  • maintenance of affordable transit fares;
  • transit shelter construction and improvement;
  • grant to Center for Transportation Studies ($500,000 annually);
  • $390,000 each year to transportation management organizations in cities of the first class;
  • $1,500,000 each year to replacement services providers for suburban connections program, and
  • other costs consistent with the purposes of the section.

This section is effective for sales and purchases made after September 30, 2015, and applies in the five counties of Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington.

Section 6 repeals Minnesota Statutes, section 473.4051, subdivision 2, which requires the state to pay 50 percent of operating costs of light rail transit that are not paid by the federal government.

 Article 6 – Other Taxes, Fees, and Transfers

Section 1 imposes a $10 surcharge on an existing $10 fee on vehicle registration and title transfers that is dedicated to the environmental fund.  The surcharge is to be divided equally between the small city and larger city street and bridge accounts.

Section 2 redistributes five percent of the highway user tax distribution fund, as allowed by the Constitution no more frequently than every six years.  The fund proceeds are to be apportioned to the county state-aid highway fund for the town road account (30.5 percent), the town bridge account (16 percent), and the county municipal accounts (ten percent).  The remaining 43.5 percent is directed to the municipal state-aid street fund.  The section is effective July 1, 2015.

Section 3 creates the county turnback account for money to be used for the restoration of trunk highways that revert to the county system.  The Legislature finds that restoration of trunk highways that revert to counties is a trunk highway purpose.

Section 4 requires the Commissioner of Transportation, in the biennial budget submission to the Legislature, to include a request for an appropriation to the county turnback account.

Section 5 creates the municipal turnback account for money to be used for the restoration of trunk highways that revert to the city system.  The Commissioner of Transportation, in the biennial budget submission to the Legislature, must include a request for an appropriation to the municipal turnback account.  The Legislature finds that restoration of trunk highways that revert to cities is a trunk highway purpose.

Section 6 requires the Commissioner of Transportation, beginning July 1, 2019, to state in each biennial budget submission amounts attributable to sales tax on construction materials purchased by contractors under lump sum contracts for trunk highway work.  The Legislature must appropriate this amount for state road construction.  This section is effective July 1, 2019.

Section 7 amends the statute that provides formula for distribution of the county state-aid highway fund so that the apportionment fund is 68 percent, and the excess sum is 32 percent of the amount to be distributed.  This section is effective October 1, 2015.

Section 8 increases the fee for a set of plates for a tax-exempt vehicle from $10 to $12.50. 

Section 9 requires the Commissioner of Public Safety to refund vehicle registration taxes if an application is submitted within the first ten days of the first month of the registration period.  This section is effective immediately for registration periods beginning on or after January 1, 2016.

Section 10 increases the fee for a set of special amateur radio license plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 11 increases the fee for special firefighter plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 12 increases the fee for special National Guard plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 13 increases the fee for special Ready Reserve plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 14 increases the fee for special volunteer ambulance attendant plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 15 increases the fee for special retired firefighter plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 16 increases the cost of regular and disability license plates from $4.50 to $6.25 for a single plate, and from $6.00 to $12.50 for double plates.

Section 17 increases the fee for special plates for remembering victims of impaired drivers from $10 to $12.50.

Section 18 increases the fee for special veteran plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 19 increases the fee for special veterans service organization plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 20 increases the fee for veteran contribution special plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 21 increases the fee for limousine plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 22 increases the fee for uniformly-designed special plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 23 increases the fee for special state parks and trails plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 24 increases the fee for special critical habitat plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 25 increases the fee for special Rotary member plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 26 increases the fee for special “Support Our Troops” plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 27 increases the fee for special Minnesota golf plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 28 increases the fee for a dealer plate from $5 to $6.25.

Section 29 makes conforming changes to section 30.

Section 30 imposes a $10 surcharge on every vehicle registration renewal, excluding pro rate transactions, and makes motor carrier fuel tax licenses subject to the existing $10 filing fee.  The surcharge proceeds are equally divided between the small city streets and bridges account and the larger city streets and bridges account.  A $3.50 portion of the current fee of $10 that is imposed on every vehicle transaction other than registration renewals, that is now deposited in the general fund will be equally divided between the small and larger city streets and bridges accounts.  The shift of $3.50 takes place immediately upon enactment, and the remainder of the section is effective July 1, 2015.

Section 31 increases the fee for a set of intercity bus license plates from $10 to $12.50.

Section 32 clarifies that the fee for creating a conditional vehicle registration is $10, and the subsequent clearing of the conditional vehicle registration carries an additional fee of $10, provided this was initiated by a motor vehicle dealer.

Section 33 creates two new special revenue accounts in the state treasury.

Subdivision 1 creates the small city streets and bridges account.  Money in the account must be appropriated by law and shall be distributed proportionally according to city population, among all cities that do not receive, and are not eligible to receive, municipal state aid.  Allocations from this account must be used for construction, reconstruction, improvement, operating, and maintenance of city streets and bridges.

Subdivision 2 creates the larger city streets and bridges account.  Money in the account must be appropriated by law and shall be distributed among all cities eligible to receive municipal state aid, according to the same statutory distribution formula that governs distribution of the municipal state-aid street fund.  Allocations from this account must be used for construction, reconstruction, improvement, operating, and maintenance of city streets and bridges.  

Section 34 exempts the Department of Transportation from payment of sales tax on its purchases, effective July 1, 2019.

Section 35 amends the distribution of revenue from the sales tax on motor vehicle leases.  It reduces the general fund dedication of $32 million of sales tax revenues to $22 million, and eliminates the transfer of fifty percent of the remaining revenues to greater Minnesota transit. The result is a transfer of the net estimated leasing sales tax revenues to the county state-aid highway fund, to be distributed to all seven metropolitan counties proportionally according to population, except that the share for Hennepin County is based on 25 percent of its population, and the share for Ramsey County is based on 50 percent of its population.  The leasing sales tax revenues transferred to the CSAH fund do not include the revenues generated by the constitutionally required 0.375 percent general sales tax rate.  This section is effective January 1, 2017, except for the provision concerning the constitutionally required .375 percent, which is effective immediately on enactment.

Section 36 exempts from motor vehicle sales tax of local government purchases of road maintenance vehicles.  Current exemption extends only to towns.  The section has retroactive and prospective effect for purchases made on and after June 30, 2014.

Section 37 changes the distribution of motor vehicle sales tax proceeds so that 58 percent (instead of the current 60 percent) is deposited in the highway user tax distribution fund; 34 percent (instead of the current 36 percent) is deposited in the metropolitan area transit account; and eight percent (instead of the current four percent) is deposited in the greater Minnesota transit account.

Section 38 authorizes the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul (separately) to impose a city parking facility fee to be paid by the owner of each public or private nonresidential parking space located within specified sections of these cities.  Eligible uses of proceeds are defined, relating to pedestrian improvements, public plazas, and transit and bicycle facilities.  The section is effective July 1, 2015, without the need for local approval.

Section 39 provides for a refund of motor vehicle sales tax paid by local governments for purchases of road maintenance vehicles, which purchases would have been exempt from the tax under section 36.

Section 40 repeals the section that creates the flexible highway account, and governs the use of the county turnback account, the municipal turnback account, the highway safety improvement account, and the routes of regional significance account in the state treasury.

Article 7 – Efficiency Measures

Section 1 requires that the proceeds from the sale or licensing of software developed by the Department of Transportation using trunk highway funds must be deposited into the trunk highway fund.  Under current law, these proceeds are deposited into the MN.IT services revolving fund.

Section 2 adds to eligibility criteria for corridors of commerce grants the extent to which land has been acquired for the project. 

Section 3 allows the Commissioner of Transportation, with the approval of the Commissioner of Management and Budget, to transfer unencumbered fund balances among appropriations within the trunk highway fund and the state airports fund, except that no transfers are allowed from the appropriations for state road construction, state road operations and maintenance, or debt service.  Transfers made under this section must be reported immediately to the Legislature.  This section is effective the day after final enactment.

Section 4 creates a state right-of-way acquisition loan account in the trunk highway fund to provide interest-free loans to local governments to acquire property within the right-of-way of an existing or proposed state trunk highway and to assist an acquiring authority to acquire homestead property in the right-of-way and provide relocation assistance, with the consent of the owner of the affected property.  This section is effective January 1, 2016.

Section 5 expands an existing statutory appropriation to the Department of Transportation to cover the state’s obligations and expenses related to acquisition and disposal of property.  The existing appropriation covers only state leased property, but this section covers all types of interests in property.

Section 6 removes the requirement that the Department of Transportation pay for the relocation of utilities located in highway right-of-way, when the relocation is necessary due to a trunk highway construction project.  This section is only applicable to those utilities installed after August 1, 2015.

Section 7 allows owners of towed recreational vehicles to pay vehicle registration taxes either annually or once every three years.  For a three-year registration period, the filling fee is triple the amount of the annual filing fee.  This section is effective the day following final enactment and applies to taxes payable for a registration period beginning on or after January 1, 2016.

Section 8 specifies that the revenue attributable to the penalty surcharge for late payment of vehicle registration tax, created in section 9 of this article, shall be considered part of the net proceeds of the vehicle registration tax, and deposited in the highway user tax distribution fund.  This section is effective July 1, 2015.

Section 9 provides for replacement of license plates on passenger vehicles every ten years, instead of every seven years, as provided under current law.

Section 10 creates a penalty surcharge for late payment of vehicle registration taxes.  The surcharge shall be $25 for each month or portion of a month following the registration period expiration date, except that the total late fee may not exceed $100. This section is effective July 1, 2015.

Section 11 directs the commissioner to establish a program to allow flexibility in allocating federal funds for state-aid projects so the money can be redirected to the project for which the money can be used most efficiently.  This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Section 12 provides that dependents of a volunteer firefighter who dies in the line of duty receive the same health insurance benefits received by career firefighters if the volunteer received dependent coverage during life or if the spouse was not covered but was eligible to be covered.  Benefits continue for the spouse until the spouse reaches age 65, and for other dependents until age 26 or as otherwise provided under specified statute.  This section is effective January 1, 2016, and applies to deaths in the line of duty that occur on and after that date.

Section 13 applies to firefighters killed in the line of duty and not covered by a municipality’s group health insurance.  Dependent coverage must be provided that is equivalent to coverage the municipality provides to other employees.  If the municipality offers no group health plan, the municipality must reimburse dependents for at least 50% of the cost of health coverage.  This section is effective January 1, 2016, and applies to deaths in the line of duty that occur on and after that date.

Section 14 defines terms for purposes of the volunteer firefighter initiative, including “dependent”, “volunteer firefighter”, and “fire department”.  This section is effective January 1, 2016, and applies to deaths in the line of duty that occur on and after that date.

Section 15 provides that an employer may provide benefits to a deceased volunteer firefighter’s surviving dependents that are greater than those provided in Secs. 12-14.  This section is effective January 1, 2016, and applies to deaths in the line of duty that occur on and after that date.

Section 16 amends the fees that are charged for escort services by the State Patrol, by removing specified statutory rates and allowing the commissioner of public safety, by July 1 of each year, to set the annual rates necessary to recover the actual costs of providing the service.  Fees for State Patrol flight services are unchanged.  This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Section 17 requires the fire chief of a deceased active firefighter to report the death to the state fire marshal, including the circumstances of the death.

Section 18 removes aircraft acquisition costs from the charges for air transportation services provided by the commissioner that must be charged to users of these services.

Section 19 adds purchase of property for transit-related capital improvements to the type of loans eligible through the right-of-way acquisition loan fund (RALF) administered by the Metropolitan Council.  The section eliminates obsolete language.  It is effective the day following final enactment.

Section 20 requires the Commissioner of Transportation to identify in the Report on Major Highway Projects the status of the efficiency recommendations that were made by the 2009 Transportation Strategic Management and Operations Advisory Task Force, and to include in the report plans to incorporate greater efficiencies in department operations.

Article 8 – Transportation Policy

Section 1 includes "unconventional vehicles" for purposes of vehicle registration. 

Section 2 restricts eligibility for a drive-away in-transit license to the owner of a motor-vehicle transporting business that is located in Minnesota.  The plate is valid while the vehicle is being transported within and outside of Minnesota.

Section 3 creates a special license plate for breast cancer awareness.  To obtain a set of plates, a registered owner of a qualifying vehicle must pay $12.50 for a set of plates (for deposit in the vehicle services operating account), pay required taxes and fees, and contribute at least $20 to Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota for breast cancer research.  The commissioner must include the inscription “Minnesota Cares” and the pink breast cancer ribbon on the plate.  This section is effective January 1, 2016.

Section 4 subjects unconventional vehicles to motor vehicle titling requirements if the vehicle has a vehicle identification number or other identifying alphanumeric sequence assigned by the manufacturer.

Section 5 creates a reinstatement fee of $100 to reinstate a revoked International Fuel Tax Agreement license.  The proceeds of the fee will be deposited in the vehicle services operating account in the special revenue fund.  This section is effective the day following final enactment. 

Section 6 defines “unconventional vehicle” in the traffic regulations chapter as a motor vehicle with at least three wheels, an unloaded weight of 300-8,000 pounds, a permanent upright seat for the driver at least 24 inches from the ground, and a speed attainable in one mile of at least 60 miles per hour on a level paved surface.

Section 7 provides that an unconventional vehicle may be operated on public highways, except for freeways, unless prohibited by the appropriate road authority.

Section 8 requires a vehicle owner, when applying for registration or transfer of ownership, to provide the registrar with information concerning motor vehicle insurance.  This section is effective January 1, 2016, and applies to registrations and transfers on or after that date.

Section 9 inserts a definition of “driving privilege license” into the statutory section that provides definition for the Drivers’ Licenses and Training Schools chapter.  A driving privilege license is for a person unable to demonstrate legal presence in this country.  The license may be used only for driving and not as proof of identification, legal presence, citizenship, or for voter registration.   The section is effective January 1, 2016.

Section 10 adds a reference to a driving privilege license to the definition of “license.”  The section is effective January 1, 2016.

Section 11 adds a reference to driving privilege license in the section defining “valid license.”  The section is effective January 1, 2016.

Section 12 adds a reference to driving privilege license to a section concerning driver’s license applications.  The section is effective January 1, 2016.

Section 13 adds a fee of $17.25 for a driving privilege license to the schedule of driver license fees.  Language further requires that an applicant for a driving privilege license must be given the opportunity to donate $2 for anatomical gift education.  The section is effective January 1, 2016.

Section 14 requires a driver’s license application (including for a driving privilege license) to include a space where the applicant attests to residence in Minnesota.  The section provides that a government identification card (passport or other primary document from a country outside the United States) is an acceptable proof of identity for a Minnesota identification card, instruction permit, or driver’s license.  This section is effective January 1, 2016.

Section 15 provides that a driving privilege license must be plainly marked “FOR DRIVING ONLY.”

Section 16 provides for active transportation programs.

Subdivision 1 defines terms as follows:

  • Administering authority is Department of Transportation (MnDOT), Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), or the Metropolitan Council (Council); and
  • Bond-eligible cost is land acquisition, engineering, environmental analysis, construction, or reconstruction of public infrastructure that provides for nonmotorized transportation, and unpaid principal on debt issued by a local government for a nonmotorized transportation project.

Subdivision 2 directs an administering authority to establish a program to support nonmotorized transportation, including, but not limited to, bicycling and pedestrian activities.  The authority may provide grants or other financial assistance for a project.

Subdivision 3 creates an active transportation account in the bond proceeds fund.  Money in the account may be expended on bond-eligible costs of a project on public property.  Two separate active transportation accounts—one for the metropolitan area and one for greater Minnesota—are established in the special revenue fund.

Subdivision 4 specifies program requirements and provides that political subdivisions and tax-exempt organizations are eligible for assistance.  The authority may spend up to one percent of available funds on program administration.

Subdivision 5 expresses a legislative finding that many nonmotorized transportation infrastructure projects are betterments and capital improvements within the meaning of the state Constitution, making them eligible for general obligation bond financing.  The legislature further finds that these projects will be financed more efficiently and economically through general obligation bonding than by direct appropriations.

Subdivision 6 directs the authority to determine bond-eligible costs, which must include bicycle, trail, and pedestrian infrastructure; safe routes to school infrastructure; and noninfrastructure programming.

Subdivision 7 directs the authority to establish a project evaluation and selection process that is competitive and objective.  An eligible project must: be included in a municipal or regional nonmotorized transportation system plan; be located in a jurisdiction with a complete streets policy; support safe routes to school and to other specified community destinations; provide health and safety benefits; and offer geographically equitable benefits.

Subdivision 8 cancels a grant and requires repayment of any spent amount if the grantee has not implemented the project within five years.

This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Section 17 requires the commissioner to spend for an active transportation program out of National Highway Performance Program funds a minimum of $16M in excess of average annual amount spent for transportation alternatives from 2009 to 2012.  The commissioner must implement an active transportation competitive grant program.  This section is effective October 1, 2015.

Section 18 creates a major local bridges account in the Minnesota State Transportation Fund for costs of major bridge projects.  A major bridge project is one that carries a total cost in excess of $30 million.

Section 19 directs the commissioner to impose an annual assessment up to a total of $32.5M on railroad companies that are common carriers, Class I Railroads or Class 1 Rail Carriers, and operating in this state. The assessment is divided according to route miles operated in Minnesota.  Proceeds must be deposited in the rail grade crossing safety improvement account and used for establishment of the state rail safety office and for highway-rail grade crossing improvements on corridors where crude oil and other hazardous materials are transported.

Section 20 allows the rail service improvement account to be used to pay for capital improvement projects designed to improve capacity or safety at rail yards.

Section 21 requires the Commissioner of Transportation to establish annually local contribution rates for airport projects that require state or federal funding.  The rates may not be less than five percent of the total cost, except that certain acquisitions where 90 percent federal funding is available may carry a lower local contribution rate.

Section 22 requires the metropolitan council to study the feasibility of the use of commuter rail transit in the I-394 corridor, with possible connection to the Southwest Light Rail Transit system.  The council must submit the report to the legislature by December 15, 2015.  This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Section 23 requires preparation of an environmental impact statement for a described railroad connector project to determine whether there is local safety or security hazard if the project goes forward.  The project may begin until the commissioner of transportation has determined the adequacy of the EIS.  The section is effective the day after final enactment and expires December 31, 2018.

Section 24 requires the secretary of state to inform county auditors to inform and train election judges not to accept driving privilege licenses for voter registration.

Section 25 establishes a public private partnership pilot program.

Subdivision 1 allows the commissioner and Metropolitan Council to utilize public-private partnership procurement methods for up to three projects.

Subdivision 2 provides for certain restrictions on project selection.

Subdivision 3 establishes criteria for selection of a private entity and project.

Subdivision 4 establishes minimum provisions that must be part of the public-private agreement.

Subdivision 5 allows the commissioner or council to utilize federal funding for these projects.

Subdivision 6 requires a report to the Legislature by August 1, 2016, and annually, listing and describing agreements under this program.

This section is effective the day after an appropriation is made for the Joint Program Office for Economic Development and Alternative Finance and for the hiring of a consultant.

Section 26 requires the Commissioner of Transportation to adopt a project data-driven evaluation process for selection of transportation projects.  The process must be reported to the Legislature and ready for use by March 1, 2016.   This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Section 27, subdivision 1, creates the road-user charge working group to study and report to the Legislature on the design and implementation of a road-user charge.  Membership (15 members) is specified, to include chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative Transportation Committees, the Commissioner of Transportation, and ten public members, five of whom are to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and five by the Majority Leader of the Senate.

Subdivision 2 identifies the working group’s duties to review policy and technical issues, specifying a range of issues required to be studied.  The group is directed to utilize the recommendations and findings of the December 2011 Report of Minnesota’s Mileage-Based User Fee Policy Task Force, prepared by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  The group is also directed to seek collaboration with other states and countries and utilize results of their pilot projects and implementation results, and to explore federal funding opportunities.

Subdivision 3 requires the working group to submit a report to the Legislature by January 15, 2017, stating findings and recommendations, proposing an implementation plan developed by the Commissioner of Transportation and approved by the working group, and be based in surface transportation finance principles.

Subdivision 4 specifies administrative provisions for the working group.  The group expires May 1, 2017, or upon submission of the report required under Subd. 3.

Subdivision 5 specifies that appointments and designations of working group members must be completed by August 1, 2015.

Section 28 requires a review and assessment of the Department of Transportation organizational effectiveness.  The review must be conducted by the Humphrey School and other named entities, and must be reported to the Legislature preliminary by December 15, 2015, and final by June 30, 2016.

Section 29 requires the Advisory Committee on Nonmotorized Transportation to recommend active transportation project evaluation and selection processes to the administering authorities.  The Advisory Committee may consult with named organizations.  The Advisory Committee’s next report must summarize the recommendations and be provided to the leadership of the legislative transportation committees.  This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Section 30 requires the Commissioner of Management and Budget to report, by January 15, 2016, to the legislative transportation committees, listing expenditures and transfers from the trunk highway and highway user funds from 2010 through 2015.

Section 31 requires the commissioner to adopt design standards and guidelines to be applied consistently to trunk highways, and county and municipal state-aid roads with similar characteristics.  This section is effective the day following final enactment.

 

 
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