Interim Joint Committee on Transportation

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 1st Meeting

of the 2014 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> June 3, 2014

 

Call to Order and Roll Call

The<MeetNo2> 1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday,<MeetMDY2> June 3, 2014, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Hubert Collins, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Jimmy Higdon, Ray S. Jones II, Morgan McGarvey, Dorsey Ridley, Albert Robinson, John Schickel, Brandon Smith, Johnny Ray Turner, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Kevin D. Bratcher, Denver Butler, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, David Floyd, Keith Hall, Richard Henderson, Toby Herald, Kenny Imes, Jimmie Lee, Charles Miller, Terry Mills, Rick G. Nelson, Marie Rader, Steve Riggs, Sal Santoro, John Short, Arnold Simpson, Diane St. Onge, Fitz Steele, Jim Stewart III, Tommy Turner, David Watkins, and Addia Wuchner.

 

Guests: Kim Jenkins, Legislative Liaison, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Carlos Cassidy, Executive Director, Kentucky Motor Vehicle Commission, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Nancy Albright, Deputy State Highway Engineer, Operations and Maintenance, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Tammy Branham, Executive Director, Office of Budget and Fiscal Management, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

 

LRC Staff: John Snyder, Brandon White, Dana Fugazzi, and Christina Williams.

 

Implementation of Transportation-related Legislation from 2014 Regular Session

Kim Jenkins, Legislative Liaison, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and Carlos Cassidy, Executive Director, Kentucky Motor Vehicle Commission, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, discussed the implementation of transportation-related legislation from the 2014 regular session.

 

Ms. Jenkins stated the cabinet does not foresee problems with implementing the legislation that was passed in the 2014 Regular Session. With the passage of Senate Bill 23, which eliminated the hearing process for the issuance of household goods movers certificates, some regulations need to be updated. The cabinet plans to have the regulations updated by July 15, 2014, to be able to implement the legislation on time.

 

Mr. Cassidy stated the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Commission will send a letter to all dealers informing them that dealersí insurance minimums will change (House Bill 169), and the dealers may make that change through their renewal process until December 31, 2014.

 

In response to a question asked by Representative Lee, Ms. Jenkins stated she is unaware if anything can be done by the cabinet without further legislation to prevent holders of disabled parking placards from parking in a designated van-accessible disabled parking spot, even if they are not in a van. The statutes do not address this situation. Ms. Jenkins stated she would check to see if anything could be done by the Cabinet and would let the committee know if legislation is required.

 

Chairman Collins commented that motor vehicle dealers are happy with House Bill 169 and that it seems it will do what was intended.

 

In response to a question asked by Representative Short, Ms. Jenkins stated the trade-in credit on usage tax for new vehicle purchases, which was included in House Bill 440 from the 2013 Regular Session, will begin July 1, 2014, and after that date, the trade-in credit will be permanent.

 

In response to a question asked by Senator Schickel concerning House Bill 290, which deals with disposition of traffic citations for minors, Ms. Jenkins said the cabinet has met with Representative Meeks, the sponsor of House Bill 290, but she has not been informed of any other action since the end of the 2014 Regular Session. She stated there were minor changes for the court system and State Police that needed to be made for the implementation of House Bill 290, but she believed they would occur by the intended implementation date.

 

††††††††††† Transportation Maintenance Activities and Budgeting Issues Related to Snow and Ice Removal

Nancy Albright, Deputy State Highway Engineer, Operations and Maintenance, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, gave an update on maintenance activities and budgeting issues facing the state due to the harsh winter. The cabinet spent over $75 million this fiscal year in snow and ice removal, after spending $42 million and $28 million in fiscal year 2013 and fiscal year 2012, respectively.

 

In response to a question asked by Chairman Collins concerning the timetable on striping roads, Ms. Albright stated contracts are issued by districts for striping purposes. Some contractors have more than one striping truck, allowing them to be in more than one place at a time; however, striping is done according to a schedule that is made with each contractor and district.

 

In response to a concern by Senator Higdon regarding the replacement of guardrail along KY 555 when it appeared to be in good condition, Ms. Albright stated the guardrail that was replaced did not meet specific guidelines mandated by the federal government, and therefore was replaced. The cabinet reuses a significant amount of that guardrail after regalvanizing.

 

Senator Higdon suggested initially making the guardrails taller with wooden blocks as reinforcement behind them to abide by the federal guidelines and prevent further guardrail waste.

 

In response to a concern voiced by Chairman Collins about possible lawsuits that could arise from reusing guardrail, Ms. Albright stated concerns of that nature could arise, but generally the cabinet reuses the old guardrail for cribbing, the reinforcement and stabilization of the ground to build up shoulders or rights of way, and not for making other guardrails.

 

In response to a question asked by Chairman Harris, Ms. Albright stated she expects the current figure of $16 million spent on pothole patching thus far to increase due to the rough winter and the significant potholes that still need to be patched. Ms. Albright stated she is unsure how much the amount will rise, but the cabinet is doing its best to make sure the potholes in travel lanes are patched before potholes on shoulders are patched to further ensure travel safety.

 

††††††††††† In response to a request made by Representative Miller, Ms. Albright stated she will provide him with the information concerning the amount that Jefferson County Metro Government is paid through its contract with the state for ice and snow removal and other maintenance activities.

 

In response to a series of questions asked by Representative Riggs, Ms. Albright stated the lighting of highways is included in the traffic budget. The cabinet uses, and has in the past, solar panels for remote traffic lighting, but has had some bad experiences such as damage and theft of the solar panels. The cabinet is not opposed to using solar panels, but because of the damage and theft issues, the cabinet has not used them for the previous few years. The cabinet is looking into using more of those and in doing so will keep them high enough so they are not accessible for possible damage or theft.

 

Representative Riggs raised concerns over the Transportation Cabinet not aggressively seeking payment for damaged signs, bridges, and guardrails by the responsible partiesí insurance companies instead of the repair funds coming out of state funds. Ms. Albright stated she will relay the concern to her superiors and will give the committee a follow up about how to handle the situation best in the future.

 

Chairman Collins added that there are several instances where a liable party may not be able to be found because an accident report has not been filed and no one knows who damaged the guardrails, signs, or bridges, and it is his understanding that the collection of revenues for such repairs has increased slightly.

 

In response to a question asked by Chairman Collins, Ms. Albright stated the cost of dead animal pickup and disposal is determined by the cabinetís operations management system. The cabinet uses an activity code for when staff performs that duty or when an inmate crew performs that duty, and the cabinet will charge it to the dead animal pickup and disposal activity code.

 

In response to a question asked by Representative Floyd, Ms. Albright stated the repairing of guardrails is not based on history of when the cabinet was made aware of the needed repair, but instead they are repaired in order of perceived danger. The cabinet reviews all guardrail repair requests from the oldest request to the most recent, and ranks them according to such things such as the height of the drop, the traffic around the area, the wreck history around the area, the speed limit, and how many obstacles there are around the area if someone were to leave the roadway. There are two separate fund sources that are used when a guardrail is brought to standard and for total new guardrail installation, however the federal government does not participate in either fund source.

 

In response to Representative Floydís assumption that it was the cabinetís decision that the KY 555 replacement of guardrail was a more critical project than others, Ms. Albright stated that, without knowing the specific details, she is assuming there were circumstances that made the replacement of the KY 555 guardrail perceived to be a higher ranking priority.

 

In response to a question asked by Representative St. Onge concerning how often contracts for snow and ice removal are reviewed for competitiveness, Ms. Albright stated the cabinet issues two year contracts with an option for two two-year renewals to the contractors, therefore the contracts usually last for six years unless there is a reason to terminate the contract early. Some contractorsí cycle comes up for renewal every year. However, if there is no issue, and the contractor is interested in renewing the contract when the time comes for renewal, the cabinet opts to renew the contract rather than rebid. She said the materials contracts for salts and calcium chlorides are bid every year, and it is an open bidding process.

 

In response to a question asked by Representative Mills concerning the removing of trees and brush along roadways, Ms. Albright stated the cabinet coordinates with the Division of Environmental Analysis for environmental concerns such as loss of habitats and aquatic life, before the tree is removed. Representative Mills encouraged the cabinet to also check with the Division of Forestry before removing trees to prevent mudslides and further damage.

 

In response to a question asked by Representative Couch, Ms. Albright stated that although the cabinet has used wooden guardrails in the past, it does not currently use them. The replacement of wooden guardrails is addressed on a per project basis and it is not a program or policy decision. Ms. Albright stated she will investigate Representative Couchís request on how to get wooden guardrails replaced with steel ones.

 

Ms. Albright stated the actions that will likely be reduced as a result of the harsh winter and occurring expenses because of the winter includes but is not limited to, tree and brush removal, signal operations, roadway lighting, panel sign repairs, and pavement strip patching. She stated what simply cannot be reduced because of safety issues are the repairing of guardrails, repairing of pipes and ditches where water is backing up onto the pavement, removal of trees that fall into the roadway, fixing of pavements as best as the Cabinet is capable, and removal of snow and ice. The long-term impacts of the harsh winter include the preparation for a reduced level of service, items may include less pavement striping every year, adding that more roads may only be restriped every two to three years, less staff at rest areas, less litter pick up, less mowing per cycle, and less right of way mowed per mile.

 

Chairman Collins stated he would like to see jailers use inmates for litter pick up more often as both a potential cost saver and a deterrent for citizens to violate the law and become an inmate. Ms. Albright stated some jailers actively pursue the use of inmates for trash pickup.

 

Correspondence from Tammy Branham Regarding Motor Fuels Tax Rate Adjustments for Quarter Beginning July 1, 2014

Tammy Branham, Executive Director, Office of Budget and Fiscal Management, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, explained that the correspondence she provided the committee is speculative information only, and it is what the cabinet is anticipating because the Department of Revenue has not officially made the announcement.

Based on the current average wholesale price (AWP) of gasoline being $2.634, statute allows only a 10 percent growth over that AWP at the close of the fiscal year into the next fiscal year. Given that, Ms. Branham anticipates an increase of 2.4 cents per gallon on the variable rate, increasing the 9 percent taxable rate to a total of 26.1 cents per gallon for the first quarter of FY 2015. Combined with the other components of the tax, this will result in a total gas tax of 30.5 cents per gallon on July 1, 2014.

 

In response to a question asked by Chairman Collins concerning this estimated rate in comparison with the estimate that was made in December of 2013, Ms. Branham stated the Consensus Forecasting Group (CFG) anticipated that the first quarter AWP rate would be 24.5 cents per gallon, therefore there is a 1.6 cents per gallon increase over what was estimated in December by CFG. Annualized, this increases the amount to approximately $60 million.

 

With no further business before the committee, Chairman Collins adjourned the meeting at 1:45 PM.