Bonds

Legislatures in 32 states so far this year have introduced more than 150 transportation funding-related measures, with more expected as legislatures in all 50 states settle into their sessions.

That’s according to the January and February roundup of state bills by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, which tracks transportation-related bills monthly through its Transportation Investment Advocacy Center.

“These bills have the potential to generate millions in recurring and one-time revenue to support transportation infrastructure projects across the country,” the center said in its latest report. “With all 50 states in session this year, the number of proposals is expected to grow.”

The number of transportation-related funding bills lags compared to other years, but is expected to pick up as legislative sessions continue. In 2021, there were 632 bills introduced into state legislatures in all 50 states, the majority of which failed to become law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which covers a wider range of transportation in its database.  In 2022, 663 bills in 46 states were introduced, NCSL said.

As of mid-February, NCSL had identified a total of 251 bills across 25 states.

ARTBA noted that nearly half, or 76, of the bills introduced so far propose one-time funding for transportation projects using bonds, excess COVID relief or budget surpluses.

Most of those measures, 57, come from Minnesota, almost all of which would raise funds for individual projects. The bills are introduced in hopes that they will be included in the state’s large bonding package that is traditionally passed every other year.

Following Minnesota, Arizona has the next-largest amount of transportation-related funding bills, with 13, on the table, 77% of which would raise one-time funds.

Texas lawmakers have introduced so far a total of 10 bills, 30% of which are for electric vehicle fees.

In Utah, a controversial measure would allow landowners and developers create their own dedicated infrastructure districts to issue bonds and levy taxes.

Nebraska would win authority to issue $450 million of highway bonds under one of its two transportation-related bills. The other would imposes taxes and fees on electric vehicles and provide for regulation of commercial electric vehicle charging stations.

After the one-time local funding category, electric vehicles fees comprise the next largest category of the transportation-related bills, ARTBA said, accounting for 17% of the state-level measures. The bills include registration fees and charging station fees.

Recurring revenue from sources like sales taxes and registration fees, make up 9%, or 14 of the bills so far, ARTBA said.

That includes a bill in Arkansas, which is the only legislation so far to make it to law after Gov. Sarah Huckabee signed it in late February.

The bill, HB 1308, would allow cities and counties to issue bonds to finance surface transportation improvements, with the bonds backed by their share of the state sales tax dedicated to transportation funding.

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