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By MARC LEVY, Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state lawmakers unhappy the state is considering imposing tolls on nine major bridges were warned about that prospect when they passed legislation in 2012 delegating approval to appointees of the governor and top lawmakers, they were told Tuesday.

Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne, reminded colleagues of that vote at the end of a long Appropriations Committee hearing during which more than a half dozen committee members questioned Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian about the potential bridge tolls.

“It turns out it’s difficult to fund transportation,” Carroll told colleagues during the hearing.

The Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board, created by a 2012 law, in November voted for the very first time to approve toll projects. The “major bridge” program allows the Department of Transportation to toll bridges to fund improvements.

PennDOT last week named nine bridges that it said it is considering tolling to pay for the reconstruction.

Tolls would be between $1 and $2, probably both ways, raise about $2.2 billion and last from the start of construction in 2023 for three or four years until construction is finished, Gramian told the Appropriations Committee.

Tolling would be electronic and collected through E-ZPass or license-plate billing, PennDOT said. The money collected on a bridge would go to its construction, maintenance and operation, PennDOT has said.


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Tags: Associated Press, legislation, business, Pennsylvania, transportation

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Michigan Ballot Drive Would Subject Gov, Lawmakers to FOIA

By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Advocates for open government said Monday they will launch a 2022 ballot drive to subject Michigan's governor and Legislature to public-records requests.

Michigan is one of just two states to wholly exempt the governor's office and is among eight states where lawmakers are explicitly exempt. Bills to end the exemptions from the 1976 Freedom of Information Act have stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate in recent years despite having won widespread bipartisan support in the GOP-led House.

Lonnie Scott, executive director of the liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan, said the “people of Michigan deserve accountable and transparent government.”

The organization will announce further details in mid-March, timed to Sunshine Week — a seven-day period intended to highlight the importance of open-government policies. Advocates will need to collect hundreds of thousands of voter signatures to initiate legislation or a constitutional amendment.

“Every year it's the same story. Bills with good intentions that don't quite far enough and include ludicrous carveouts for the Legislature in an effort to bribe Republicans to support them slowly die on the vine because of a lack of political will or commitment to real transparency in the Legislature,” Scott said. “The public is sick of it and we're done playing games.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: Michigan, Associated Press

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