COLUMBUS -- The cost of commercial vehicle registrations would be halved in Stark and several other counties, under language added to the biennial transportation budget Feb. 23.
The two-year pilot program would reduce commercial vehicle registrations to $15 from $30 in Stark, Clinton, Lucas and Montgomery counties as part of an effort to determine whether the move would lead to an increase in big rig registrations.
"What our suspicion is is that some of these large trucking companies will now register their tractors here, and that's what we're trying to get, but we want to prove because we're losing all that revenue that it's going to be additional and we won't blow a hole in the budget," said Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), who serves as chairman of the Ohio House's Finance Committee.
The amendment was part of a larger package of changes made to the biennial transportation budget and OK'd by the committee members Thursday, with a floor vote by the full Ohio House expected next week.
The transportation budget outlines spending and policy proposals affecting the Ohio Department of Transportation and a handful of other state agencies. It's separate legislation from the larger state operating budget, which lawmakers likely will finalize in late June.
The transportation budget generally is completed every other year, by early April. The Ohio Senate already has outlined its schedule for deliberations on the bill, with testimony starting next week and a committee vote in late March.
That likely means there will be additional changes made to the legislation before final enactment.
The House Finance Committee added a number of amendments Thursday, including language that would:
Remove a short-lived proposal, added to the bill earlier this week, to phase in the application of the state's motor fuel tax to compressed natural gas.
Make a failure to display a front license plate a secondary offense, so long as the vehicle involved is legally parked.
That provision stopped well short of the approach sought by some lawmakers, some of whom want to do away with Ohio's front license plate requirement altogether.
Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) attempted an amendment to make driving without a front license plate a secondary offense, meaning officers could not pull someone over simply for not having a front plate.
She cited the case of Sam DuBose, an unarmed man who was shot dead by a University of Cincinnati officer two years ago following a traffic stop for not having a front license plate.
Reece's amendment failed, however, with Smith noting opposition to that move by law enforcement.
"There's tremendous safety concerns that people have brought up in the past," he said. "I have those as well."
Mandate that school districts that receive revenues from the sale of specialty license plates file annual reports with the state.
Direct that signs on state highways for national park sites include the National Park Service's arrowhead symbol.
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.