The Brazilian government must have borrowed several chapters from Vladimir Putin’s playbook on industrial policy. Reuters has it that the Brazilians are using the same strong-arm tactic as Russia: Invest heavily in-country and steep taxes on imported cars will go away. Don’t invest in Brazil and kiss your bunda adeus. Read More >
Washington State ballot initiative guru Tim Eyman vowed Wednesday to put even more pressure on municipalities he sees as dependent on automated ticketing revenue. Eyman is feeling good after voters on Tuesday rejected cameras by comfortable margins in three of three contests on Tuesday. Larger jurisdictions are now in his sights.
“For us, it’s full steam ahead,” Eyman told TheNewspaper. “I’m gung-ho to do a couple more cities and keep the ball rolling. I’ve never found a more effective way to lobby the legislature than to say, ‘You either do it, or we’re just going to pick you off one city at a time.’”
Sixty-one million dollars a year is a lot of money. That is the revenue Chicago’s red light camera program program generated in 2010. Based on reports from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), a proposed speed camera enforcement program being pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) would make the city’s red light camera program look penny ante in comparison.
The Expired Meter obtained the results of three studies conducted by CDOT over the past few years which shed light on how lucrative the speed camera business could be for Chicago. Data from these reports seem to indicate that revenue from speed cameras could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for a desperate, cash-strapped city.
With a 35% import tax on new cars, Argentina is already a touch market for foreign brands seeking to bring cars into the country. But the Argentinean government has just made it little bit harder by demanding that importers export an equal amount of Argentina-made goods for every car imported. As a result, Bloomberg reports that Porsche’s importer is exporting Malbec wines and olives, Mitsubishi’s importer is getting into the peanut export game, and Subaru’s representative is shipping chicken feed to Chile. BMW, which has had recent difficulties importing into Argentina, is focusing on its core business, exporting auto parts and upholstery… and a little processed rice to make up the difference. But why are these major manufacturers getting into all kinds of strange side businesses just because Argentina wants to improve its trade balance and foreign currency reserves? Simple: Argentina is South America’s second-largest economy, and it’s been growing at over 5% per year since 2007 (i.e. when other markets were shrinking). So if the government wants imports balanced with exports, well, Porsche’s importer is just going to have to get into the wine business, isn’t he?
Georgia’s introduction of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on Interstate 85 at the beginning of the month has already turned into a public relations disaster. During rush hour, motorists found themselves stranded in the general purpose lanes as the adjacent HOT lane — constructed and maintained with their tax dollars — were essentially unused. Drivers balked at paying the stiff $5.40 entrance tax for permission to enter, leaving the existing lane space to go to waste. Governor Nathan Deal (R) intervened swiftly on October 6 to order the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) to lower the cost of using the toll lane.
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The main tool for the government’s crusade to get one million plug-in cars on the road by 2015 is the “Qualified Plug-In Electric Vehicle Tax Credit,” a credit that returns between $2,500 and $7,500 to purchasers of a qualifying vehicle. To qualify for the minimum $2,500 credit, a vehicle must have a traction battery with a minimum of four kW/h, and the credit adds an additional $417 in credits for every kW/h above the minimum. Why? Well, you might think that it’s because the DOE has done its research and determined that larger battery packs deliver more social benefits… at least until the 16kW/h limit (the exact size of the Chevy Volt’s battery), where the credit tops out at $7,500. But according to new research by Carnegie Mellon’s Jeremy Michalek, that basic assumption doesn’t appear to be true at all. In fact, his latest paper argues that the government would actually be better off subsidizing smaller, not larger, battery packs.
Motorists issued a traffic ticket in Massachusetts will have to pay money to the state whether or not they committed the alleged crime. According to a state supreme court ruling handed down yesterday, fees are to be imposed even on those found completely innocent. The high court saw no injustice in collecting $70 from Ralph C. Sullivan after he successfully fought a $100 ticket for failure to stay within a marked lane.
Arizona must subsidize those who ride on buses, vans and light rail, regardless of the desire of state lawmakers or voters to do otherwise. US District Court Judge David G. Campbell on Friday overturned a state law enacted in March last year to curtail excessive spending by slashing such subsidies. The legislature canceled the Local Transportation Assistance Fund, which had doled out $127 million in taxpayer cash since 1998 to various mass transit programs using funds from the Powerball lottery.
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Companies that operate red light cameras and speed cameras are facing increasing opposition across the country. In response, the firms have adopted a strategy of suing cities that have second thoughts about continuing to use cameras in their community. They have also been going after their own customers to collect as much revenue as possible.
On December 1, Redflex filed suit against Tempe, Arizona in Maricopa county Superior Court claiming the city owed $1.3 million in per-ticket fees for each driver mailed a photo ticket who decided to go to traffic school. The city claims it only collected $1.8 million in revenue from the program, mostly because last year’s payment rate was just 31 percent. Drivers realize in increasing numbers that tickets in the state can be ignored unless they are properly served.
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California has backed up its strict emissions standards for years now with a $5,000 tax credit for electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, which when combined with a $7,000 federal tax credit can often make those vehicles nearly as affordable as “regular” cars. But, reports Automotive News [sub], that state credit has fallen victim to California’s budget woes and oversubscription, and has been cut in half from $5,000 to $2,500. According to the report:
high demand exhausted the program’s funding last month. The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that about 500 consumers who bought electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf or Tesla Roadster are on a waiting list and will collect the $2,500 rebate.
To deal with growing demand, the pool of money to fund the rebates was increased to between $15 million and $21 million for CARB’s current fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, according to CARB’s announcement. A total of $11.1 million was allocated in the program’s first two years, according to CARB spokeswoman Mary Fricke.
The increased cash pool and lowered rebate amount are aimed at making the incentive available to more consumers, according to CARB’s Web site. The changes are projected to fund about 6,000 rebates for consumers who apply for the program on a first-come basis, Fricke said.
Now California “green car” intenders not only get a reduced tax credit, but they also don’t get free access to the HOV lane anymore. It’s almost as if California wants “green” vehicles to succeed or fail on their own terms…
Public employees can take rides on toll roads at taxpayer expense, but these trips are not subject to disclosure according to a ruling Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. A three-judge panel denied the freedom of information request of the Harrisburg Patriot-News for E-ZPass transponder usage information data by for employees of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. On October 21 the paper sought details on the 2000 toll collectors who do not pay for use of the road, regardless of whether the travel was job related.
Voters in Washington state will decide in November whether to slow down the state’s push toward tolling. Initiative 1125 prohibits lawmakers from diverting toll road revenue and other levies on motorists toward non-transportation purposes. It also forces politicians to vote directly on any toll hikes.
“If there’s going to be tolls, there has to be accountability and transparency,” initiative co-sponsor Tim Eyman of Voters Want More Choices wrote in an email. “It’s simply not too much to ask for taxpayers who are being forced to pay twice for their roadway infrastructure (the highest gas tax in the nation and tolls) that the legislature be required to follow the law and abide by the Constitution.”
The highest court in Massachusetts believes there is no due process problem with charging motorists $300 to challenge a $5 or $15 parking ticket. On Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the appeal procedures in the city of Northampton satisfied constitutional requirements even though motorists were denied an in-person hearing to contest the legitimacy of a citation. The city only allowed people either to pay the fine in full or send “a signed statement explaining his objections.”
Opponents of automated ticketing machines in Monroe, Washington have turned to a new tactic in battling a city council that refuses to give up the use of red light cameras and speed cameras. Instead of engaging the city and a wealthy traffic camera company in a costly legal battle, the group BanCams.com decided Wednesday to shame the council at every election until officials follow the public will.
The battle over the Houston, Texas red light camera program returned to the legal spotlight Monday. A majority of voters agreed with Francis M. Kubosh and Randall Kubosh in November that the automated ticketing machines should be removed, but a federal judge intervened earlier this month and overturned the election (view ruling). The Kuboshes filed a reply brief with the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Monday seeking to restore the result of the public vote.