Columbus — The transportation budget signed into law by Gov. John Kasich April 1 includes more than $7 billion in spending on roads and bridges and related infrastructure projects and lots of other law changes that will affect average Ohioans.
Here are a dozen ways that the legislation might affect you when it takes effect in July:
1. Penalties: Do you have a motor vehicle that you haven’t registered yet? In about three months, that infraction will become a minor misdemeanor rather than a fourth-degree misdemeanor, meaning the penalty will be a little less.
2. No Mirrors: Do you like to head out to the lake for some water tubing or skiing? You’ll still have to have somebody on board to keep an eye on people being towed, after lawmakers removed an amendment allowing a rearview mirror for such observations. That proposed law change has been offered as separate legislation, however, so it may not be dead yet.
3. Title Issues: Are you up to your ears in paperwork related to a boat purchase? The transportation budget eliminates a requirement that the “make, manufacturer’s serial number and horsepower of any inboard motor” be included on watercraft title applications, according to the Legislative Service Commission. But you’ll still have to provide the watercraft’s “make, year, length, series or model if available, body type and hull identification or serial number.”
4. Credit Cards: Do you prefer to pay for things with plastic? The transportation budget requires your local Bureau of Motor Vehicle office to accept debit or credit cards as of July 1, 2016.
5. Temp Tags: Are you planning to buy a vehicle soon? You’ll have 45 days to get permanent plates, thanks to a provision in the transportation budget extending to 45 days from 30 the time that temporary plates or windshield stickers are valid.
6. New Drivers: Do you have a probationary driver’s license, and have you had it for less than a year? There will be new restrictions on when you can operate a vehicle, with prohibitions between midnight and 6 a.m. unless you’re accompanied by a parent or guardian or heading to an official school or religious event with written permission.
7. Driving Tests: Are you getting ready to take your first driver’s test? A new law will require you to take an abbreviated training course if you’re 18 years or older and fail the road test the first time before you can take it a second time.
8. Handicapped Spaces: Have you noticed those diagonal lines next to parking spaces for disabled residents? You better think twice before parking your car in those areas — a provision in the transportation budget sets $250 to $500 in fines for anyone “stopping, standing or parking” in those areas.
9. Simulators: Have you ever used one of those computerized driving simulators as part of driver’s education programs? Lawmakers have earmarked nearly $1 million for the Department of Public Safety to purchase more of those portable units over the next two fiscal years.
10. Task Forces: It wouldn’t be a budget bill without some new task forces of study efforts. One provision adds members to an existing Criminal Justice Recodification Committee and gives that panel seven additional months to finalize a report of its work. A new “Joint Legislative Task Force on Department of Transportation Issues” will study higher speed limits, license plate costs ad other issues, with a report due before the end of the year. A separate “Transportation Oversight Committee on Rural Busing” will study whether rural bus routes are meeting communities’ transit needs. And another provision requires state transportation officials to “develop metrics that allow the comparison of data across transportation modes and to incorporate the full spectrum of state strategic transportation goals using those metrics.”
11. Speed Limit: Did you hear about the provisions to boost the speed limits on the Ohio Turnpike and certain sections of rural highway to 75 mph from 70? Well, that law change was killed before the bill was finalized, so you’ll have to keep the speedometer at 70 mph on those stretches of road.
12. Move Over: Lawmakers also killed a provision barring drivers from staying in the left lane on three-lane highways unless passing another vehicle or exiting. But they retained language requiring the Ohio Department of Transportation to install “Keep Right Except to Pass” signs along highways, even if it’s not required under state law.
Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.