Oregon trucking, construction and insurance groups are suing the state of Oregon for “diverting revenues from the Highway Trust Fund to build websites for state administrative agencies.”
The groups say Oregon used road money to build websites, then raised the cost of driving records nearly 400% to recoup some of the funds.
“The unauthorized increase in cost of driving records and the unconstitutional diversion of the revenues from the sale of the driving records sacrifice Oregonian’s jobs and motoring safety so that the state agencies may have nicer websites,” the complaint states.
The Oregon Trucking Association and six other plaintiffs claim the state’s Department of Transportation and the Department of Administrative Services did not have the authority to re-appropriate the highway funds.
“The nonprofit Oregon Trucking Associations is joined by plaintiffs Oregon-Idaho AAA, the Oregon-Columbia Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, Redmond Heavy Hauling, Gordon Wood Insurance and Financial Services, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies,” Court News Service reported.
According to court documents, the plaintiffs argue that the Oregon Attorney General’s office already warned the agencies that they did not have the authority to re-appropriate the funds and urged them to seek the state Legislature’s approval.
“The plaintiffs claim that the defendant Department of Administrative Services (DAS) asked the Legislature a year ago to authorize the state Department of Transportation to grant DAS an exclusive license to provide electronic access to state driving records and allow the DAS to use the money from selling of the records to build and maintain state agency websites. The Legislature refused to adopt the bill,” the Courthouse News Service reports.
The Oregon constitution states that transportation funds are to be used for “the construction, reconstruction, improvement, repair, maintenance, operation and use of the state’s public highways, roads, streets and roadside rest areas.”
Despite their denial, the Department of Transportation gave DAS a 10-year exclusive license to dispense driving records. In turn, DAS made an agreement with NICUSA, a Kansas corporation, to provide electronic access to the records in exchange for for web service.
Oregon currently charges $2 for driving records. The cost is expected to increase to $9.68 per record.
The lawsuit states that a reduction in highway funds will result in “a reduction in highway care that will result in a reduction in highway safety and increase adverse effects on the natural environment.”
The plaintiffs are asking that the extra money made from the driving records be put back into the Highway Trust Fund.