Four state legislatures in the Midwest made major moves on transportation policy this year, adopting increases in motor fuel taxes that in some cases had been left unchanged for more than a decade.
This decision to boost funding for roads and bridges was one of the region’s more notable legislative trends from the past year. Several factors, transportation experts say, caused 2015 to be a breakthrough year for transportation measures — lower gas prices, growing shortfalls in state transportation funds, gubernatorial and legislative leadership, and the support of key business groups.
In this region, the tax hikes on gasoline and diesel fuel have already taken full effect in Iowa and South Dakota. Nebraska’s four year, phase-in plan begins in January, while in Michigan, the state’s new transportation plan won’t be fully implemented until 2021.
Across the country, the number of “earn while you learn” programs is growing rapidly, and some states in the Midwest are leading the way with new policies to expand apprenticeship opportunities.
New policies in three Midwestern states have the goals of boosting immunization rates among young people and preventing the spread of disease.
With the adoption of Public Act 239 in the summer of 1972, lawmakers in Michigan sought to generate new revenues in support of the state’s public education system by embracing a mechanism with a storied past in American history — the public lottery. In doing so, the Wolverine State became the first in the Midwest to establish a modern state lottery, following the lead of a handful of northeastern states and helping to usher in a new wave of interest in state-sanctioned gambling across the entire country.