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State Legislative Update



DelDOT plans flat budget for next fiscal year 

DelDOT rolled out a $356.6 million placeholder budget proposal on Monday, with officials taking few chances as federal budget talks teetered on the edge of collapse and state revenue growth remained in doubt.  Agency Secretary Shailen Bhatt told the Office of Management and Budget that his initial operating budget proposal is 0.7 percent larger than last year's, below the 1 percent cap ordered by Governor Jack Markell's staff as preparations for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2012, get under way. Capital budget spending for highway construction and other big-ticket items would decline by 9.6 percent.

Read More:  News-Journal 11/21


A $1 billion upgrade for Turkey Point 

Way down where East Palm Drive cuts through the mangroves lining southern Biscayne Bay, Florida Power & Light is ramping up one of South Florida’s largest construction projects — a $1 billion upgrade of the nuclear power plant at Turkey Point.  It’s got nothing to do with FPL’s controversial plan to add two new reactors to the site. This work is all part of an “up rating’’ that will allow the utility to coax more power from its current two reactors, amounting to a massive overhaul of the four-decade-old facility.

Read more:  Miami Herald 11/20


Miller to state:  Hands off KDOT funding 

Kansas lawmakers responded to budget shortfalls in the past dozen years by cumulatively withdrawing $1.4 billion previously earmarked for transportation improvements across the state.  This mountain of cash that would have been devoted to reconfiguring clogged highway arteries, bridge construction and sponsoring other modernization initiatives since 2000 was invested by bipartisan action of legislators and governors into operations of the Kansas Highway Patrol, subsidized airline tickets in Wichita and, in a new twist, state Medicaid programs.  The drain on the Kansas Department of Transportation in the current fiscal year totals $238 million. That is a nearly $50 million increase from the year before.

Read More:  Capital-Journal 11/19


More public input to be taken on bridges project 

A revised plan for two Ohio River bridges at Louisville has been given the Federal Highway Administration's OK, and Kentucky and Indiana officials say they will take feedback for the next couple of months and hold public meetings.  The revised plan was suggested earlier this year by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. A series of meetings was held in June to take input on the proposal.

Read More: Bowling Green Daily News 11/17


Miller wants to ensure gas tax revenue would go to transportation projects 

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said last week that he favors a super-majority vote in the legislature to transfer transportation money to other uses rather than a constitutional amendment that would keep the money off limits for other purposes.  The issue surfaced recently with talk of a possible gas tax increase to fund transportation projects, which the General Assembly could address in its upcoming session.

Read More:  Gazette 11/18

 New Jersey 

Christie wants to borrow billions to fix roads, bridges 

Governor Christie is seeking the Legislature's permission to borrow several billion dollars for transportation projects, even though New Jersey voters said in 2008 they want final say over new state debt.  The governor — a fiscal conservative who once said new debt should not be issued without voter approval — needs the borrowed money because he wants to spend $8 billion over the next five years to upgrade New Jersey's aging transportation infrastructure, and he won't have enough funds coming in just from the state budget or outside sources such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to do so.

Read More:  Bergen County Record 11/19



Water Supply 

A lack of private land isn't the only hurdle to economic development and diversification in Nevada (see above). A Brookings Mountain West report, conducted for the Governor's Office of Economic Development, says another critical limitation is the state's lack of water resources.  Industries from mining to manufacturing and energy to agriculture require vast amounts of water, and Nevada is an arid desert. Las Vegas, the state's population center and economic engine, has grown into a tourism-driven metropolis only because the Colorado River happens to run past it.

Read More:  Las Vegas Review-Journal 11/18


Ohio’s shale gas fields could be an issue for Pennsylvania 

As lawmakers in both houses of the Legislature pushed proposed new drilling regulations and environmental standards last week, a neighboring state loomed large: Ohio.  The Buckeye State has played a major role all year in Pennsylvania's drilling debate. Gov. Tom Corbett's administration repeatedly has warned of competition from oil finds there. As drillers have battled municipalities such as Mt. Pleasant and South Fayette over drilling rights and rules, they've implied they might scale back in the vast Marcellus shale gas play of Pennsylvania, possibly for Ohio's greener pastures.  In a column sent to newspapers throughout the state last week, Marcellus Shale Coalition leader Kathryn Klaber said municipal rules are hampering development, risking jobs and economic loss for everyone statewide.

Read more:  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 11/21


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