What's Happening in the Area

Negotiations Continue Over Transportation Bill, NJ Transpo. Borrowing Limit Bill Advances, New GDL Restrictions pass Assembly
06.25.2012

Federal Transportation Bill Update Congress remains in negotiations over the transportation bill as the June 30 deadline looms. The current extension of SAFETEA-LU, the federal transportation bill, is set to expire at the end of the month. The highway bill funds road and transit projects and authorizes the federal government to collect gas taxes, which total 18.4 cents-per-gallon. The tax is used to pay for the projects.

While there is a sense of optimism in the talks on Capitol Hill, the reality of a fast-approaching deadline remains in focus. Both Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the chairmen of the Senate and House panels negotiating the bill, have said they want a bill done by the end of this week.

On top of the deadline, Congress is also up against their Independence Day recess, which begins one week from today.

Both the Senate and House went to conference, after the Senate passed a two-year, $109-billion transportation bill, and the House passed a short-term bill to extend existing funding through the end of September. The progress this week suggests GOP leaders in the House would prefer a longer agreement over the short-term extension.

Stay tuned to our Twitter feed (@TransOptions) for legislative updates as the negotiations continue.

New GDL Restrictions Advance Assembly The New Jersey Assembly passed new GDL restrictions this week, under bill A-1571. The new legislation would expand supervised driving requirements, increasing that phase to one year, and add a teen orientation prior to the start of the supervised driving phase.

The in-class and online orientation would provide tools to ensure both young drivers and their parents benefit from the supervised driving phase. It would also aim to provide a better understanding of the GDL laws and offer parents tips on how to teach their teens necessary driving skills.

The New Jersey Senate must now advance the bill for it to head to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk before becoming law.

Bill To Raise Borrowing Limit for Transportation Projects The Assembly Budget Committee approved the Christie administration’s bill to raise the borrowing limit for transportation projects by a 10-2 vote. The administration wants to use $260 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to close a growing revenue gap, but in order for that to happen, the Legislature must first approve a bill to prevent any impact to transportation projects.

Despite the vote, members from both parties have expressed disapproval in the bill, with two Republican Assemblymen arguing that raising the borrowing limit without a public vote is unconstitutional. The measure has already been advanced out of the Senate budget committee and now heads to the full Senate and Assembly.

Drunk Driving Bill Pulled Lawmakers in Trenton pulled a bill this week that would require a device be installed in the cars of motorists convicted of drunk driving. The device would prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver has alcohol on his or her breath. Legislators cited a need for more amendments to the measure.