Rhode Island Considers New Tolls


RHODE ISLAND TOLLS: Toll booths may be coming to the largely toll-free Rhode Island , as Governor Lincoln Chafee searches for ways to reduce the state's backlog of road repairs, reports the Providence Journal . The most likely place for new tolls would be on Interstate 95 near the Connecticut border. That move would require approval from the federal government, but, the Journal notes, many states are pushing Congress to give them more flexibility to add tolls to existing interstates.

ARKANSAS ROAD FUNDING: Two measures backed by Arkansas House Speaker Robert Moore Jr. to improve the state's roads using new taxes have cleared their first legislative hurdle, writes the Arkansas News Bureau . Moore wants to increase the state's diesel tax by 5 cents a gallon, bringing the total to 27.5 cents. He also is pushing a decade-long measure to increase the state's sales tax by half a cent; the proceeds would expand Arkansas' network of four-lane highways. Both measures would need voter approval next year. In his state of the state speech , Democratic Governor Mike Beebe said new revenues must be found for highway improvements.

NATIONAL TEEN DRIVING STANDARDS: A group of federal lawmakers wants to impose nationwide rules for teenagers getting driver's licenses, says Transportation Nation . Their proposal would require states to use a three-tier graduated licensing system, which would not let teens get unrestricted licenses until they turn 18. States would lose federal highway funding if they did not comply. All states use some sort of phased-in license already, but the details vary widely. "Six states allow permits for 14-year olds," Transportation Nation notes, "while South Dakota has no (restrictions) at all for 16-year-old drivers."

IMMIGRANT LICENSES: Late-session activity seems to have doomed efforts in Utah and New Mexico to bar unauthorized immigrants from driving legally. Legislation headed to Utah Governor Gary Herbert would allow drivers in the country illegally to get special driver's permits, but they would now have to provide fingerprints and undergo background checks, reports the (Provo) Daily Herald . The New Mexico Senate again rejected Governor Susana Martinez's effort to bar unauthorized immigrants from driving there, writes The Associated Press . Meanwhile, the Kansas City Star reports that the Missouri House approved legislation to require driver's tests to be administered only in English; currently they are given in 11 other languages, too.

PARENTAL DRIVER'S ED: Home-schooled high schoolers in Iowa would receive driving instruction from their parents rather than public school teachers, under legislation moving through the state House there. "It just doesn't make sense for students to have to go to public school for just this one thing," a lobbyist for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition told the Quad-City Times . Iowa lawmakers approved similar legislation in 2004, but then-Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed it, citing concerns about "inconsistency in training."


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