Thefirst meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday, June 6, 2006, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair, called to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members: <Members> Senator Brett Guthrie, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr, Charlie Borders, David E Boswell, Robert J (Bob) Leeper, R J Palmer II, Richard "Dick" Roeding, Richie Sanders Jr, Gary Tapp, and Damon Thayer; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Carolyn Belcher, J R Gray, Melvin B Henley, Jimmie Lee, Paul H Marcotte, Charles E Meade, Charles Miller, Russ Mobley, Rick G Nelson, Don R Pasley, Marie L Rader, Rick W Rand, Ancel Smith, Jim Stewart III, and Tommy Turner.
Guests Appearing Before the Committee: Lt. Adam Whitlock, Kentucky State Police; Secretary Bill Neighbert, Deputy Secretary Jim Adams, Chuck Knowles, Deputy State Highway Engineer, Roy Mundy, Commissioner of Vehicle Regulation, and Debra Gabbard Executive Director, Office of Budget and Fiscal Management, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
LRC Staff: John Snyder, Jim Roberts, and Linda Hughes.
The first item on the Committee's agenda was the Kentucky State Police's implementation of 2006 House Bill 707 - AN Act relating to commercial driver's licenses. Lt. Whitlock said there are currently 14 CDL schools operating in Kentucky and with the implementation of House Bill 707, the testing backlog schools have complained about in the past should diminish significantly. He said that that backlog was due mostly to student retesting. Lt. Whitlock noted that, historically, individual tested by Kentucky Community and Technical College System charged $150 and those tested by the Kentucky State Police paid nothing. Also, under the previous law there was no charge for retestings.
Under the new law the State Police charge each out-of-state student a testing fee of $150 and each in-state applicant a testing fee of $50. This fee covers the initial test and up to three retests. All students who fail the test four times are charged a retest fee of $50, which allows for three extra tries. This tiered fee structure and the retesting fees will allow the State Police to hire additional examiners to help eliminate the backlog for student retesting.
Lt. Whitlock said the State Police report any CDL school who receives a 30 percent or higher failure rate to their governing body, the State Board for Proprietary Education. He said he understood that once reported, the Board requires written notification from that school on how they planned to rectify their low student passing rate.
Chairman Collins stated that the State Police must be satisfying those 14 schools because since the adoption of House Bill 707 he has not received any complaints. Lt. Whitlock said that the State Police understands the school's frustrations over the delayed time schedule for testing and is working diligently to alleviate those delays.
When asked what type of complaints the examiners received from the students, Lt. Whitlock said the most common complaint was that the students were not receiving adequate driving time practice. He said that students out number the vehicles in every school.
Secretary Bill Neighbert and Roy Mundy, Commissioner of Vehicle Regulation, discussed the Transportation Cabinets plans for implementing the enacted 2006 legislation. Chairman Collins stated that the Committee members had earlier received a copy of staff's Summary of 2006 Enacted Transportation Related Legislation and rather than have the Cabinet explained each piece of legislation he suggested that the Cabinet answer any questions the members might have.
Senator Tapp asked how the Cabinet planned to notify the driving public on the provisions of Senate Bill 44. Chuck Knowles, Deputy State Highway Engineer, stated that the Cabinet is currently researching various notification avenues; however, he said the Cabinet did planned to erect over 100 educational signs throughout the state's interstates and parkways. Other means, he noted, had yet to be determined.
Secretary Neighbert said that thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 44, the quick clearance legislation, as well as the graduated driver's license legislation, and the primarily seat belt law, fewer Kentuckians will loose their lives each year on the state's highways. He said these three pieces of legislation will be instrumental in saving lives.
Senator Blevins asked how the primarily seat belt law affected limousine passengers, and were limousines required to have seatbelts. Cabinet officials were unable to answer the question but stated they would report back to the Committee.
Secretary Bill Neighbert and Debra Gabbard Exec. Director, Office of Budget and Fiscal Management, gave an update on the enacted Six Year Highway Plan.
Secretary Neighbert said that the Cabinet will enjoy a surplus of approximately $35 million in fiscal year 2006, which will revert back to the Road Fund. He stated that part of the surplus was from the Cabinet eliminating 821 positions during the last four years. When asked what that amounted to in dollar savings, he said he did not have the exact amount with him but would supply that figure to the Committee.
Ms. Gabbard, Executive Director of the Office of Budget and Fiscal Management, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, stated another reason for the surplus was the result of the legislature freezing the Gasoline Tax rate increase of one cent in FY 2005 and another 1.1 cents in FY 2006.
Ms. Gabbard said she anticipated the surplus trend to continue in the future due to the General Assembly's foresight in enacting two measures within House Bill 380, the budget bill, which pertained to motor vehicle usage tax: the first exempted out-of-state purchases of vehicles from Kentucky sales tax only if their home state have a reciprocal agreement with Kentucky. Ms. Gabbard anticipated that this provision would generate between $12 and $15 million, annually.
The second provision set a valuation floor of 50 percent of trade-in value on vehicle purchases with an affidavit. The Department of Revenue reports that 60,000 affidavits have been filed at the minimum price of $100, often on vehicles that would seem to be worth more. This change is estimated to bring in $10-$15 million per year.
General questions were raised as to the spraying of thistles along the state's highways, and the mowing schedule in Southwestern Jefferson County. The Secretary stated that although the mowing schedule increased from two to three times a year, he is not satisfied and is looking for ways to improve the program. The Cabinet was to forward the information to the Committee.
Chairman Collins informed the Committee that due to its next regularly scheduled meeting date falling on July 4th, the Committee would next meet on Thursday, July 6th, at 10:00 a.m., pending approval. He informed members that they will receive their customary two-weeks notice prior to the meeting.
With no further business before the Committee, the meeting adjourned at 2:35 p.m.