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.
If all goes well with a pilot program launched this summer, Iowa may soon be the nation’s first state to offer digital driver’s licenses to residents.