Thefirst meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday, June 5, 2007, at 1:00 PM, in Room 169 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Brett Guthrie and Representative Hubert Collins, co-chaired the meeting. Representative Collins called the to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Brett Guthrie, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr, Charlie Borders, David E. Boswell, Bob Leeper, R. J. Palmer II, Dick Roeding, Richie Sanders, Jr., Gary Tapp, and Damon Thayer; Representatives John A. Arnold, Jr., Eddie Ballard, Carolyn Belcher, Larry Belcher, Johnny Bell, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Jim DeCesare, Keith Hall, Richard Henderson, Melvin B. Henley, Jimmie Lee, Charles Miller, Russ Mobley, Rick G. Nelson, Marie Rader, Sal Santoro, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, Brandon Spencer, Jim Stewart III, and Tommy Turner.
Guests Testifying Before the Committee: Commissioner Greg Howard, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, Commissioner Roy Mundy, Department of Vehicle Regulation, Commissioner Marc Williams, Department of Highways, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Medearis Robertson, Kentucky Injury Prevention & Research Center; and Tom Fitzgerald, Kentucky Resources Council.
LRC Staff: John Snyder, Jim Roberts, Brandon White, and Linda Hughes.
At this time the meeting chairmanship was turned over to Co-chair Brett Guthrie.
Commissioner Marc Williams, Department of Highways explained the proposed amendments to 2007 House Bill 89 which sought to amend the Wild Rivers statutes. Commissioner Williams said that the amendment proposed to amend KRS 146.241 to establish that KRS 146.220 to 146.360 would not be construed to prohibit or interfere with the construction of the proposed Interstate 66. The Interstate 66 - Somerset to London construction (Six Year Road Plan Item No. 8-59.10) runs from the vicinity of the Northern Bypass (I-66) in Somerset, KY to Interstate 75 between London and Corbin, KY. The counties involve are Pulaski, Rockcastle, and Laurel.
Commissioner Williams said that in 1991 Congress mandated an I-66 feasibility study. A study by the Transamerica Transportation Corridor showed segments of I-66 would be regionally feasible, and another report by the Kentucky Transportation Center showed that the widening of I-66 would allow for economic and quality of life benefits. And, Commissioner Williams stated that a further 2000 study by the Kentucky Corridor showed the highest priority was the Somerset to London segment.
Commissioner Williams said that the change proposed in the amendment to HB 89 would have identified the Rockcastle River from the KY 1956 bridge to the backwater of Lake Cumberland because KY 80 as originally listed in the statute has been renumbered as KY 1956. The proposed amendment also reiterated that nothing in KRS 146.220 to 146.360 shall be construed to prohibit or interfere with the relocating or construction of KY 80 or proposed I-66, including the construction of bridges at a point near the existing KY 80 bridge. He said that the proposed amendment to 2007 HB 89 was to again provide clear legislative authority for a crossing of I-66 at the KY 80 crossing.
Commissioner Williams stated that the northern corridor was selected because of fewer environmental impacts to the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Kentucky Wild River, and endangered species. Plus, less construction costs for a higher level of traffic served, and there being an overwhelming public opposition to any southern routes.
Commissioner Williams said that the London terminus was desirable to the interchange at I75. He said the Corridor Study eliminated the northern terminus due to multiple bridge sections, the potential impacts to a drinking water supply (Wood Creek Lake) and major reconstruction at existing KY 80 interchange, which would disrupt a business and community area. He further stated that there didn't seem to be anyway to avoid the Wild River alternative because of construction difficulties with rugged terrain, and other possibilities would provide below average traffic service, difficulty with northern avoidance and making a connection to south of London. Commissioner Williams stated that there were 11 alternatives studied within the Northern Corridor and all of the alternatives shared a common crossing point near the current KY 80.
In closing, Commissioner Williams said that the Cabinet's next steps were to complete the preliminary design and environmental impact documentation and then to advance the project to its final design/right-of-way phase.
Chairman Collins asked if the construction costs would be paid with Federal dollars. Commissioner Williams said there would be both Federal and State dollars involved.
Tom Fitzgerald, Kentucky Resources Council, cautioned the Committee of the Cabinet's neglect of finalizing environmental impact studies prior to moving ahead on the I-66 construction. Mr. Fitzgerald stated that without the finalization of those studies the Commonwealth may be unintentionally destroying some of its natural resources. He urged the Cabinet to finalize all of the required impact studies before making final preparation for the construction of I-66.
Representative Carolyn Belcher asked the Cabinet to forward to the Committee copies of any environmental impact studies dealing with the construction of I-66 that it has in its possession. Mr. Fitzgerald stated that it might be helpful if the Committee requested any outside comments along with the impact studies and that these comments would readily available to the Cabinet. Representative Belcher asked the Cabinet for those comments to accompany the impact studies.
At this time Chairman Collins resumed the chair and asked Commissioners Greg Howard and Roy Mundy, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and Medearis Robertson, KY Injury Prevention & Research Center, to discuss the presentation on drug testing protocols and reporting requirements for Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holders.
Commissioner Roy Mundy, Department of Vehicle Regulation, discussed 2007 Senate Bill 217 relating to a positive drug test by a CDL applicants. He stated that other states had adopted similar legislation and suggested that the Committee review a recent enactment by the North Carolina General Assembly.
Commissioner Mundy said that any suspension of a CDL must contain due process provisions including an appeal and hearing process. This administrative action would probably be the responsibility of the Division of Driver's Licensing within the Department of Vehicle Regulation. He noted that there would be additional cost involved and stated that the costs related to the implementation of an alcohol or drug testing program could be assessed to the motor carrier industry through a possible fee assessment.
Commissioner Greg Howard, Department of Vehicle Enforcement, agreed with Commissioner Mundy that any legislation must contain due process provisions relating to a license suspension. His concern relating to the commercial truck driver is that positive tests can go unreported. He said that drivers may test positive, move to another company and be driving without being reported.
Commissioner Howard stated that compliance audits sometimes reveal company failure to report positive tests, but no punitive action can be taken against the company. He also stated that the majority of the trucking industry is safety conscious, however if a company fails to report a positive test of a new applicant for employment no punitive action is currently available against either the applicant or the company.
Representative Hall stated that he was unaware, until he was put into the position of having to document an accident, that when he asked for background checks on potential employees, that those background checks it did not include alcohol or drug test reporting. Commissioner Mundy said that that was a common misconception by a large number of employers. He said currently there is no federal or state co-sharing information and that the proposed law would hopefully resolve this problem. Commissioner Howard stated that a number of companies have voiced their concerns of not including alcohol or drug information.
The last item on the Committee's agenda was a report by the Transportation Cabinet on their current and historical backlogs in processing title requests. Commissioner Mundy, accompanied by Betty Redd and Willie Payton, addressed this topic.
Commissioner Mundy stated that the Cabinet projects it will process over 1.4 million titles and 170,000 duplicate titles in 2007. He said that there are on average over 700 duplicate title requested a day.
Ms. Redd said that currently the turn around time for processing titles is 15 to 20 days. She indicated that this length of time was due mostly to the large amount of employees retiring coupled with the amount of time it takes an agency to process the paperwork for hirees, current employees' summer vacations, and the work done from the outside company who is responsible for the printing of the titles.
Representative Lee stated that he and Chairman Collins and raised this issue for a number of years and there always seems to be the same problems. He stated the time lag of receiving a title is unacceptable and it was time to correct the problem instead of offering excuses. He offered his and the Committee's assistance in correcting this process, and stressed it was time to bring the Commonwealth into the future and consider the electronic titling process.
Representative Lee asked if the Cabinet's present system could process paperless titles. Commissioner Mundy stated the he felt sure that the current system could handle a paperless title with little difficulty. He said that he understood what the Committee was trying to accomplish and said he was in full agreement, and in fact was excited about the proposed process. When asked if he would study the issue of using the Cabinet's present system for accomplishing an electronic title and report back to the Committee at a later committee meeting, Commissioner Mundy said that he would not wait that long, but rather he would send his findings to the Committee in a matter of weeks.
Representative Lee thanked Commissioner Mundy for his efforts and commented that he felt that today's discussion had moved the state further towards a paperless title than any other discussions in the past years.
Prior to adjourning the meeting Chairman Collins reiterated the Committee's upcoming meeting dates. Those dates were: Tuesday, July 3rd; Tuesday, July 31st (which replaces the August meeting day that conflicts with NCSL); Tuesday, September 4th; Tuesday, October 2; and Thursday, November 8th (which replaces the November meeting day, that falls on Election Day).
With no further business before the Committee, the meeting adjourned at 3:10 p.m.