New Jersey Democrats Want to Roll Back Tunnel Tolls
By Daniel C. Vock, Staff Writer
TUNNEL TOLLS: New Jersey drivers could get some relief from repeal of a toll increase that was originally designed to help pay for a commuter rail tunnel to New York City. After Republican Governor Chris Christie canceled the project, Democratic legislators proposed scaling back the toll hike. Christie says the money is already dedicated to other projects, but legislative analysts disagree, The Star-Ledger reports . The point may be moot, the paper adds, because Christie could veto any changes. A Christie spokesman told the Asbury Park Press that the governor's plan would avoid higher gas taxes.
LEGAL TROUBLES: Despite a recent ruling invalidating it, a $31 billion public works plan in Illinois just got a reprieve, the Chicago Tribune writes . The state Supreme Court issued an order to let the state continue to collect liquor taxes and other revenues meant to finance the program while the high court considers whether to hear an appeal. An appeals court knocked down the law last month for being overly broad. If the program stands, construction projects would be funded through higher vehicle registration fees, liquor taxes, new taxes on candy and cosmetics, and video gambling in bars.
ANTI-SUICIDE DOORS: A New York state senator harshly criticized a proposal to install new doors and barrier walls along New York City subway platforms in order to prevent suicides and fatal accidents. Similar equipment exists in many foreign cities and American airports. "To even contemplate this nonsense is self-evidently a waste of time, effort, energy and yes, money… money the (Metropolitan Transit Authority) does not have, " state Senator Diane Savino wrote in a letter, according to Transportation Nation . "The cost to install the barriers would be astronomical. The cost to maintain the doors in good operating condition would be even higher." But the New York Daily News points out one potential side benefit of the plan: It would prevent trash from blowing onto the tracks and starting fires.
DEADBEATS DRIVING: In Maryland , Governor Martin O'Malley wants to deny driver's licenses to tax delinquents, notes the Baltimore Sun . The governor's office predicts the move would help the state collect $40 million over two years. The AAA Mid-Atlantic, which represents drivers, is skeptical. So, too, are Republicans in Maryland's Democratic-dominated Legislature. "This is the heavy hand of government, and I think a lot of questions are going to be raised," says Anthony J. O'Donnell Jr., the top Republican in the House of Delegates.
UNINSURED DATABASE: Mississippi lawmakers are looking to crack down on the roughly one-quarter of the state's motorists who drive without required auto insurance. One idea is to create a statewide database that police could use to determine whether the cars they stop have coverage, the Hattiesburg American reports . A state House transportation committee moved the proposal forward, but Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson says changes are needed to address practical problems.