REAL ID DELAY: States have another two years to comply with a federal law that would create a national network of driver's license information, notes CNET
. Nearly half of all states oppose the controversial Real ID law, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures . The law was meant to prevent terrorists from obtaining valid driver's licenses, but privacy advocates claim it is too invasive and state governments worry that it is too expensive. Last week's decision delays the effective date from May 2011 to January of 2013.
BACKING AWAY FROM BONDING: California is backing away from a planned sale of transportation bonds in order to keep cash on hand, the second time the state backed away from bond sales in six months, notes the San Jose Mercury News . The delay will affect more than $2 billion worth of projects statewide, but officials say the state still will sell the bonds — approved five years ago — by a 2012 deadline.
IMMIGRANT LICENSES: New Mexico's Democratic Legislature may be less inclined to uphold a policy allowing immigrants in the country illegally to drive than its previous governor thought . Moves to overturn the policy initially died both in the state House and Senate, but Friday the House resurrected the measure and sent it to the Senate, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports. Eight Democrats voted for the measure, joining 33 Republicans and one independent. Meanwhile, Oregon lawmakers are considering moving in the opposite direction, writes the Statesman Journal . Since 2008, state law there required licensed drivers to be in the country legally; legislation now being considered would let unauthorized immigrants get a distinctive license, similar to a system Utah uses now.
RAISING GAS TAXES: Maryland counties are dealing with the "virtual elimination" of road-maintenance money from the state compared to 2007, and now local leaders are pressing for the state to hike its gas tax, reports the Baltimore Sun . The gas tax has remained unchanged for two decades, while governors and lawmakers have raided transportation funds to keep the state's main checking account in the black, the paper explains. Meanwhile, Georgia lawmakers are weighing a change in the state gas tax designed to make sure that revenues, which are used to build state roads, keep pace with inflation, notes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . The proposal would replace the state's current two-part tax with a simpler per-gallon tax that would be adjusted every year. Authors say the main goal is not to bring in more money to the state but to make the revenue easier to predict.
EXPENSIVE 'WARNINGS': A proposal in South Carolina would punish speeders with hefty fines of up to $150 — that would stay off their driving records — in order to boost the financial fortunes of state and local governments, reports The State . Representative Todd Rutherford, a Democrat, says the measure would divert motorists' money away from "Big Insurance and (put) it in the coffers of the state of South Carolina." Opponents argue that all driving infractions should be reported to the state and that a local-based system would open the door to corruption.