New Jersey’s Democrat-led legislature approved a 23-cent gas tax increase last week after lawmakers struck a $16 billion, eight-year deal with Republican Gov. Chris Christie that will also reduce the sales tax and eliminate the estate tax in the state. The deal will allow stalled transportation projects to resume after Christie halted all but the most essential ones in July as the state’s transportation trust fund ran out of money and expired. But the hard-fought, months-in-the-making agreement also demonstrated once again how different 2016 has been compared to last year when it came to state efforts to increase revenues for transportation.

The dog days of summer at the end of August aren’t typically known for the level of activity in state capitals. But a couple of legislative hearings held this week in Texas and Michigan could have fairly significant implications for the future of transportation not just in those states but around the country.

Five states and two multi-state collaboratives will be the first recipients of federal grants under a $95 million program that could go a long way toward determining the future of transportation funding in the United States, it was announced this week.

While not likely to be a major issue in the fall campaign, the future of the nation’s infrastructure did receive some attention in the party platforms released last month in advance of the Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions. The platforms reveal very different philosophies that could guide the federal government’s approach to infrastructure in the years to come and have a huge impact for states seeking to meet their future infrastructure needs. But the statements of the presidential candidates themselves on infrastructure issues are also prompting some attention this week.

During a recent webcast presented by The Council of State Governments in collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, experts discussed vehicle telematics technology and its impact on the insurance industry.

Despite concerns about the long-term solvency and sustainability of the federal highway trust fund, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act passed by Congress in December 2015 did not include what many said was a much needed increase in the federal gas tax, which has remained unchanged since 1993. Congress instead offset a transfer of general funds to supplement gas tax revenues by tapping a Federal Reserve surplus fund among other sources. The action came at the end of a year in which eight states did raise their own gas taxes. With the fuel efficiency of the nation’s vehicle fleet improving and the greater adoption of electric vehicles on the horizon, some states are also looking to a new revenue mechanism that some believe could one day replace the gas tax—a mileage-based user fee. Concerns about how the fees would be administered and whether it could ever be done as efficiently as the gas tax are causing doubts it will be ready in time to help fund the next long-term iteration of the federal program when the FAST Act expires in 2020.

New Jersey policymakers face a July 1 deadline to come up with a way to avert the impending insolvency of the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. Meanwhile, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy agreed last month to divert $50 million in sales tax revenues intended for his state’s Special Transportation Fund to help close a $1 billion budget deficit for the 2017 fiscal year. Such diversions have become commonplace in Connecticut and other states. Last December, Malloy called for a constitutional “lockbox” to prevent future diversions as a number of states have employed, but lawmakers could not agree this spring to put the measure on the November ballot. These stories return the spotlight to trust funds and lockboxes, which were the subject of a CSG Capitol Research brief last year.

Next month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to issue what is being billed as a model state policy as well as “best-practice guidance to industry on establishing principles of safe operation for fully autonomous vehicles.” Then, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) will follow suit with more detailed guidelines and materials in support of the policy this fall. Those two documents are likely to kick off what many believe will be a busy couple of years at the state and federal levels in determining how driverless vehicles will take the roads and the complex policy changes that may be needed to accommodate them. But while many states anxiously await that guidance, a couple are already making moves to accelerate the autonomous future in significant ways.

Aubrey Layne is the secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia and serves as the 2016 vice-chair of the CSG Transportation Public Policy Committee. He delivered a keynote address May 19 to state legislators from around the country attending the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. He spoke about the Commonwealth’s recent efforts to reform its processes around transportation project prioritization and public-private partnerships.

The transportation policy roundtable during the 2016 CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. wrapped up with a panel discussion on the future of the federal-state-local partnership on transportation. The panelists included Emil Frankel and Jeff Davis of the Eno Center for Transportation, Joe McAndrew of Transportation for America and Brigham McCown of the Alliance for Innovation & Infrastructure. They discussed what the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act means for states, what happens after it expires in 2020, how states might be encouraged to innovate more on transportation funding, and why it’s important for federal and state governments to invest in better transportation projects in the future.