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Transportation policy bill flies through conference committee

The conference committee on the transportation policy bill meets April 25. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)
The conference committee on the transportation policy bill meets April 25. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

Flying cars could be able to drive legally on Minnesota roads in the not-so-distant future following action by a conference committee Thursday.

Provisions allowing registration of roadable aircraft (i.e. flying cars) are included in a House and Senate agreement to the transportation policy bill – HF3436*/SF3944. It also includes rules governing the operation of the vehicles, essentially that they would be considered cars on the road. Take off or landing on public roads would be prohibited.

The conference committee approved a delete-all amendment that will become the conference committee report on a voice vote, and sent it back to both chambers.

Conference Committee on HF3436 4/25/24 - Part 1

The absence of flying cars from the Senate bill was one of the main differences between the House and Senate versions. Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee) who co-chaired the conference committee joked most of the conference report comprises regulation of flying cars, provisions first proposed by Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca).

“There’s a lot of good things in this bill. A lot of good ideas proposed by the members of both the GOP and DFL,” said Tabke, who co-sponsors the bill with Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls).

Tabke is particularly proud of provisions that would make pay for state troopers consistent with pay for other law enforcement officers. “It’s important for the future of law enforcement.”

The report, as amended, would set strategies for reducing wait times for driver’s license exams and have municipalities focus attention not just on speed limits but road designs.

There are provisions designating the Senator David J. Tomassoni Memorial Cross Range Expressway in northern Minnesota and the Mayor Dave Smiglewski Memorial Bridge over the Minnesota River near Granite Falls.

Also included are House provisions that would spell out best practices for child restraints. These would include having children younger than two in rear facing child seats until they reach the height and weight limits of the car seats and having children ride in booster seats until age 9.

[MORE: House greenlights transportation policy bill]

A Senate-only provision would allow oversized trucks to carry sugar beets after harvest on a few roads in East Grand Forks.

Other provisions in the report would:

  • allow motorcycle ground lights as long as they do not flash;
  • allow septic tank trucks responding to an emergency to be 10% heavier than state weight limits. However, seasonal weight limit reductions would not apply;
  • prohibit towing of vehicles solely for having parking tickets;
  • require a report on improving transportation to the Minnesota State Fair;
  • require timely reporting to the Department of Public Safety for crashes involving fatalities, injuries, damage to highway fixtures or involving school buses or commercial vehicles; and
  • include teardrop trailers in the definition of recreational vehicles.

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