UPDATE – March 13, 12:01 AM – After an evening of tense back and forth negotiations between the Utah House and Senate, HB 362 passed the House and Senate with just 18 minutes left in the session. The bill has great potential for bicycling and walking projects in the future.
The key provision for biking in HB 362 is this:
A county, city, or town may expend revenue collected from a tax under this section, except for revenue the commission distributes in accordance with Subsection (4)(a), (5)(a)(i), or (5)(b)(i), for: (a) a class B road; (b) a class C road; (c) traffic and pedestrian safety, including for a class B road or class C road, for: (i) a sidewalk; (ii) curb and gutter; (iii) a safety feature; (iv) a traffic sign; (v) a traffic signal; (vi) street lighting; or (vii) a combination of Subsections (8)(c)(i) through (vi); (d) the construction, maintenance, or operation of an active transportation facility that is for nonmotorized vehicles and multimodal transportation and connects an origin with a destination;
March 12, 2015 – HB 362, a bill to increase the gas tax and to fund transportation in Utah, appears to have passed the Utah State Senate by a vote of 22-7. The provision for a local option sales tax that can be used for active transportation (bicycling and walking) and transit is in the Senate version of the bill. The Senate bill had some changes from the house version, and will now be sent back to the house. Barring any major impasses, the bill should pass the legislature and be sent to the governor for his signature.
This will allow municipalities to use sales tax revenue to construct active transportation facilities (i.e. biking and walking) from a portion of the collected taxes. The bill will allow cities and counties to collect a .0025% sales tax that can be used for transit, biking, and walking.
March 11, 2015 – The Utah State Legislature is working on competing bills to raise the gas tax. One of these bills, House Bill 362 sponsored by Rep. Johnny Anderson, would give municipalities the option of raising local sales tax by a .0025 (1/4 percent) and be able to use that some of that money for transit and importantly for funding for bicycling and walking infrastructure.
Currently, a competing bill has passed in the Senate which does not provide for the local option.
Cyclists are urged to call and email their Utah State Senator today to ask them to support the local option sales tax and funding for bicycling and walking. The legislative session ends Thursday, March 12, 2015 at midnight.
Senators can be contacted here: http://senate.utah.gov/senators/full-roster.html
The Utah Transportation Coalition distributed this comment on the bill:
Benefits of H.B. 362
We all benefit from a well-functioning and well-maintained transportation system. This comprehensive approach to our transportation needs will improve our air quality, support our vibrant economy and enhance our overall quality of life.
• Real reform – H.B. 362 converts the cents per gallon tax to a percentage so that the buying power of the tax keeps pace with inflation.
• Clean Air– Allows for additional transit service and local improvements to bike and pedestrian infrastructure that would reduce approx. 33,000 car trips per day and prevent 200 tons of emissions.
• Rural Needs – Gives UDOT funding for rural state roads and bridges.
• Local Needs – Provides cities and counties tools to address their needs.
• Provides options – By providing funding for roads, transit and biking, the bill will help to maintain our current infrastructure and provide transportation options as our population continues to grow.