Thursday, November 12, 2015

Interim Transportation Committee meets on UGPTI study and uniform truck permitting

NDDOT Director, Grant Levi
 Committee Scraps Study to Re-Align Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute
The Interim Transportation Committee voted Thursday to suspend further study of moving the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI) from NDSU to the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT). The interim committee has held two meetings on this issue and received no testimony in support for a change in the administration authority. NDDOT and UGPTI provided testimony reiterating that there is no benefit to gain by changing this relationship. NDSU President Dean Bresciani said, "In no way is this in the best interest of our state. I am not aware of any benefit that would be achieved with moving UGPTI to NDDOT." He also pointed out that a substantial amount of outside funding would not be available if UGPTI was not tied to a university. "I believe it is important for us to have a third party perspective separate from us (NDDOT) to do these studies which tell us what needs to be done," said NDDOT Director Grant Levi. Legislators can resume discussions on the study if new information arises.

Uniform Truck Permit System Study
Terry Traynor, NDACo
Lawmakers continue their study on the over-weight truck permitting system in oil and gas producing counties. The committee is reviewing the ND association of oil and gas producing counties' uniform county truck permit program. NDACo was asked to testify on the efforts by counties outside the oil region regarding over-weight truck permitting. More counties are making permits available through their websites and more county sheriff's are purchasing their own scales and dedicating manpower to enforcement. In addition, NDACo requested the committee remove the sunset related to civil penalties for those driving over-weight vehicles without the proper permitting. 2013 legislation clarified that the civil penalties went to the road fund were the enforcement action took place. Prior to the law change, all settlements benefited the state. The legislative change was drafted to "sunset" at the end of this current biennium. NDACo expects to see a bill draft to remove the sunset clause at the next Interim Transportation Committee meeting.