On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
59°
Few Clouds
H 76° L 61°
  • cloudy-day
    59°
    Current Conditions
    Few Clouds. H 76° L 61°
  • cloudy-day
    71°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 76° L 61°
  • cloudy-day
    71°
    Evening
    Cloudy. H 76° L 61°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Senators urged to consider taxes, tolls, and fees for infrastructure
Close

Senators urged to consider taxes, tolls, and fees for infrastructure

Senators urged to consider taxes, tolls, and fees for infrastructure

Senators urged to consider taxes, tolls, and fees for infrastructure

As a U.S. Senate committee heard testimony Wednesday on the need to approve a five year plan to authorize federal aid for states to build new roads and bridges around the country, the big question that remains unanswered on any infrastructure bill - both in Congress and at the White House - is still the issue of how to raise more money to fund national transportation needs.

"We certainly see a need for increased revenue," said K. Luke Reiner, the head of the Wyoming Department of Transportation. 

But Reiner was not offering any public suggestions.

"I'm not here to tell the Congress how to fund it," the highway chief told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. 

Panel Chairman Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) has vowed to push ahead with a five year transportation bill in coming months, with a committee vote possible before Senators leave town on their summer break.

Both Democrats and President Trump have publicly expressed their support for an over $1 trillion infrastructure plan - but neither side has put down on paper how it would be funded, which is always the third rail of the highway bill debate.

"The gas tax is the easy short term answer," said Max Kuney, representing road building companies through the Associated General Contractors of America, as he noted the federal gas tax of 18.5 cents a gallon has not been increased since 1993.

But at Wednesday's hearing, Kuney and others said the growing number of hybrid and electric vehicles on America's roads shows the gas tax is not a long term answer to funding road and bridge construction needs.

"For example, consideration should be given to imposing an annual registration fee for electric and hybrid vehicles," Kuney added.

That's already being done in some states, as a way to insure that those vehicles pay into the highway system, sometimes paired with an increase in state gasoline taxes.

"In 2015 our legislature passed a five-cent increase to the fuel tax and indexed the rate to inflation," said Carlos Braceras, the head of the Utah Department of Transportation, who told Senators how registration fees had been increased by 30 percent for electric and hybrid vehicles, to insure that they pay more into the funds for road construction.

Utah is one of a number of states - Red and Blue - which have moved to increase their own gasoline taxes in the past few years, knowing that a funding boost from Uncle Sam is unlikely.

As lawmakers work to pass a new transportation bill, one Democratic Senator said it might also be time to consider giving states more leeway to levy tolls as well, with the expanding use of electronic toll collection.

"People go through, charge their Master Cards or whatever, and they're on their way. No muss, no fuss," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), who described how I-95 in his state went from being a parking lot as traffic backed up to pay tolls, to a highway where tolls are paid automatically as cars speed by at 65 mph.

"I think this has really opened up a new opportunity to make tolling a better option for states than we have in the past," said Carper.

Carper also pressed the idea of the futuristic 'Vehicle Miles Traveled,' which would use technology to track how much people drive - and they would pay fees based on their road use.

"There are no silver bullets, a lot of silver BB's," Carper added on the question of transportation funding.

Read More

News

  • One of Texas' largest cities is reeling after a tornado swept through north Dallas on Sunday night, officials said. >> Read more trending news  According to KDFW-TV, the twister struck about 9 p.m. CDT near Dallas Love Field Airport, then headed east, damaging homes and businesses while initially knocking out power to more than 100,000 people in the region. As of early Monday, no deaths or serious injuries had been reported, the city of Dallas said in a news release; however, emergency officials told The Associated Press that they received reports of people cut by glass shards. Crews also were trying to determine whether any victims were trapped inside a collapsed structure after seven people safely fled the building, the AP reported.  WFAA-TV reported that the storm destroyed Dallas Stars hockey player Tyler Seguin's mansion. Seguin appeared to confirm the news on Twitter but assured fans that he was OK. 'Thanks to everyone reaching out about the news tonight, I am safe,' he tweeted. 'Luckily this is my house for sale and I have moved into a new one. I just left the area and it is an extremely sad sight to see. Prayers to everyone affected by the tornado.' The storm caused 'significant' damage to six homes in nearby Sachse, as well, the AP reported. Four of those houses are now considered 'uninhabitable,' according to the news agency. Read more here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A toddler is dead and two adults are recovering from injuries after gunfire erupted Sunday in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, police said. >> Read more trending news  According to KYW-TV, a shooter armed with an AK-47 rifle fired into a Water Street home about 3:30 p.m., striking a 2-year-old girl, her 24-year-old mother and a 33-year-old male contractor, authorities said. The girl, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head, died at the scene, police said.  Emergency responders rushed the woman, who was struck in the head and back, and the man, who suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach, to a nearby hospital, WCAU-TV reported. They are in stable and critical condition, respectively, authorities said. Investigators believe the shooter intentionally targeted the house, then ran from the scene, the news outlets reported. Police said they have not arrested any suspects in connection with the case. Police also are investigating whether the incident is connected to a shooting that occurred minutes earlier on East Clearfield Street, according to KYW. No injuries were reported, authorities told WCAU. Read more here or here.
  • A Georgia woman has been arrested in connection with the death of a toddler in Donalsonville, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  Paresij Handford, 28, was charged with the death of 2-year-old Zayden Brown, GBI spokeswoman Jamy Steinberg said in a news release. Handford is the girlfriend of Brown’s father.  Brown’s autopsy at the GBI Crime Lab revealed that Brown died from several injuries. His death was then ruled a homicide, Steinberg said.  Handford was arrested after the GBI performed witness interviews and obtained evidence related to the case, the release said. She is charged with one count of felony murder and one count of first-degree child cruelty. Handford was booked in the Seminole County Jail, Steinberg said. The county borders Alabama and Florida, and Donalsonville, the county seat, is about 225 miles southwest of downtown Atlanta. Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact Donalsonville police or the GBI at 229-225-4090.
  • Steelers linebacker Anthony Chickillo was arrested in Fayette County over the weekend. >> Read more trending news  The details surrounding the alleged incident are unclear at this point, but state police confirmed it stemmed from a 'domestic situation' with Chickillo's girlfriend over the weekend. Multiple sources have told Channel 11 the incident happened at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington. We have reached out to Nemacolin regarding the incident but have not yet heard back. Chickillo is facing multiple charges, including simple assault, criminal mischief and harassment.  According to court documents, Chickillo was released from jail on a $10,000 bond. State police said Chickillo's girlfriend was cited for harassment as well. The Pittsburgh Steelers issued a statement regarding Chickillo, confirming they were aware of the 'incident' that led to his arrest: 'We are aware of an incident involving Anthony Chickillo last night and are still gathering information. Until we have further details, we will not provide any further comments.' Chickillo's status with Pittsburgh is uncertain moving forward, but he is still listed on the team's roster as of Sunday night.
  • A 500-pound bomb the United States dropped during a bombing raid over Italy during World War II didn’t explode -- until Sunday. >> Read more trending news  The bomb was found near a cathedral in Balzano, not far from a train station, the likely intended target, during construction of a shopping center, the ANSA news agency reported.  About 4,000 people were evacuated while experts spent more than three hours defusing the bomb before it was taken to a controlled site and detonated, online newspaper Neue Suedtiroler Tageszeitung reported. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • One Ohio car wash is offering customers a wash, wax and scare during October for Halloween. >> Read more trending news  The Rainforest Car Wash turns into a haunted house Friday and Saturday nights throughout October. 'We’re going to have people in various positions throughout the tunnel peeling soap away, scaring people,” a car wash employee told WEWS. “We’ll have various props and scenes set up.” Similar Halloween-themed haunted car washes have been set up in Alabama and Texas.  “Not only are you locked in your car in a haunted house, but you're going to go home with what we think is the cleanest car in Ohio,” the car wash employee said.