2017 was a big year for state transportation funding efforts, following in the footsteps of recent odd-number years 2013 and 2015 that also saw significant activity. So, what’s on tap for 2018? Here’s my annual look ahead.

Infrastructure investment was a big winner on Election Day 2017 as a variety of state and local ballot measures around the country to raise taxes or authorize borrowing won voter approval. Here’s a roundup of what happened Tuesday and a look ahead to 2018.

While 2017 is considered an off-year in most state election cycles, Election Day this year still will find transportation on the ballot in a variety of ways. From two key gubernatorial contests to state and local ballot measures, here’s a preview of what to look for on November 7 as well as updates on a few transportation-related matters already decided by voters.

CSG Midwest
Every Midwestern state requires drivers to have auto liability insurance. The rate that individuals pay for this insurance is based on a host of factors — some connected to their driving habits and history, others unrelated. For example, some states may have higher-than-average litigation or medical care costs; their residents pay higher premiums as a result, the Insurance Information Institute notes.
Within a state, too, premiums can vary considerably from one driver to the next. That is because, in setting rates, auto insurers use a mix of “driving factors” and “non-driving factors.” The former includes an individual’s driving record, the type of car being insured and the number of miles driven; the latter includes age, gender, marital status, credit history and where the driver lives.

Thursday, October 19 marked the deadline for cities to apply to become the home of Amazon’s second corporate headquarters, a $5 billion project that is expected to eventually employ 50,000 people with average salaries of more than $100,000. The competition, which the company announced last month, sparked a bidding war that demonstrated the growing importance of ecommerce and logistics to the nation’s economy and that allowed many parts of the country to tout their infrastructure assets and, in some cases, to recognize the infrastructure challenges they may need to face in the future.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on October 6 announced the latest recipients of federal grants to enable testing of alternative methods of transportation funding. The $95 million Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives program was established under 2015’s FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act.  

President Trump this week appeared to back away from what was expected to be a cornerstone of his plan to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. Meanwhile, federal autonomous vehicle policy gets an update from the U.S. Department of Transportation and in new legislation expected to go before a U.S. Senate committee next week.

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Personal and commercial drone usage is on the rise, creating new challenges for the insurance industry and policymakers in areas like property damage and liability. Join legal and risk management experts from Florida State University for a nonpartisan, nonadvocative discussion of current and future drone usage. This hour-long session, presented in collaboration with The Institutes Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, will consider the legal and regulatory environment and examine the myriad insurance-related issues that emerging drone technology presents.

CSG Midwest
In 2013, the Washington State Legislature authorized a civil collection process for unpaid traffic fines, which replaced a requirement that the state suspend a person’s driver’s license for failure to pay a traffic violation.
Under similar legislation enacted in California this year (AB 103), county or court collection programs may not initiate a driver’s license suspension due to failure to pay a fine or penalty, except in the case that an individual fails to appear at a hearing. In addition, the law repealed the authority of the court to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of a person’s failure to pay a fine or bail, with respect to various violations relating to vehicles, thus removing the requirement for the department to suspend a person’s driver’s license upon receipt of that notice.
In the Midwest, a Nebraska law (LB 259) enacted this year allows residents to request a hearing if they believe they do not have the financial ability to pay for a traffic ticket.

2016 saw the release of federal guidance designed to define the roles of the federal and state governments in regulating autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles. It also saw Michigan enact the most sweeping autonomous vehicle legislation in the nation. But while those efforts sought to focus on the immediate policy concerns and jurisdictional boundary issues involved in the testing and deployment of self-driving cars, others are starting to consider what are expected to be profound long-term policy and planning impacts of these vehicles across a wide variety of sectors in the decades ahead. These include impacts to the economy, the built environment, safety and energy consumption.

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