Five bills that would provide modest aid to state road and bridges easily won final legislative approval Tuesday.
A plan aimed at improving transportation through low-interest state loans to local governments passed the House.
The proposals are House Bills 618 and 767. They passed 87-0 and 94-0, respectively.
The former is a proposed constitutional amendment that would be submitted to voters. The latter measure would be a state law that spells out details of the changes.
State law generally bans the state government from offering loans or credit.
The bills would allow low-interest loans to parishes and municipalities to help pay for transportation projects.
The legislation would set up a fund in the state Treasurer’s Office using state dollars that would otherwise be invested elsewhere. The fund would be part of the Louisiana State Transportation Infrastructure Bank.
The bank would be run by a seven-member panel that includes the state treasurer, the secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development and others. Local officials would be required to show they could repay the loans through bonds or other financing.
Voters rejected a similar proposal last year.
The bills are among an array of proposals that would offer modest fixes to transportation problems amid Louisiana’s $12 billion backlog of road and bridge needs.
Earlier in the day the state Senate approved two other transportation measures.
They would boost state aid for roads and bridges by about $100 million per year.
The measures are Senate Bills 122 and 221. They cleared the Senate 39-0 and 35-1, respectively, after winning lopsided House approval on Monday.
They are sponsored by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley, R-Benton.
SB 122 would change state budget practices to add $100 million into the state’s general fund.
SB 221 would allow for that money to be moved to the Transportation Trust Fund, with the first $70 million designated for road and bridge maintenance.
The plan is linked to state financial conditions.
It would take effect on July 1, 2016 at the earliest.
It would also nullify a 2008 state law that called for up to $400 million per year of vehicle sales tax dollars to be moved to the transportation fund once state revenue reaches certain levels.
A fifth proposal — House Bill 208 — would gradually trim most of the annual transfers of state dollars from the Transportation Trust Fund to State Police. The House voted 90-0 to go along with minor changes in the Senate version.
Currently, about $70 million is set to be transferred.
The bill would reduce that to $45 million on July 1, $20 million next year and $10 million per year in future years.
The sponsor is state Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette.
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