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Election 2012: Know your Utah governor
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

Voters this fall in Utah will have ballots filled with candidates vying for offices that stretch from Washington, DC, to around the block.

One of the offices on ballots is for the governor’s seat. Sitting Governor Gary Herbert initially assumed the office when then-Gov. Jon Huntsman stepped down in August 2009. Herbert was elected to a special, two-year term in November 2010. Two years later he is seeking a full term as the state’s chief executive.

It is no small task for Utah voters to keep up with even the most notable actions taken by Herbert during his time in office. While many professional drivers can recall precisely the actions relative to trucking that have been taken others welcome a helpful reminder.

With that in mind, below are some actions relevant to trucking that the Republican governor took since he assumed office about two years ago.

Possibly the most notable initiative signed into law during Herbert’s term covers indemnification clauses in motor carrier contracts.

Signed into law in April 2011, the rule change outlawed provisions in contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence.

Affected contracts are defined as any written agreement for the transportation of property for compensation or hire, entry on property to load, unload or transport property, or any service incidental to such activity, including the packing or storage of property.

A couple of months earlier Herbert signed a separate bill addressing concerns about fairness. The rule change provides protections from fees applied for police and fire personnel responding to accidents.

The Utah law restricts fees that municipalities can charge after accidents. Local agencies can continue to charge “at fault” drivers for towing, debris clean up, or to repair damaged roads. Fees for ambulance services are also not prohibited. However, charging a “flat fee” for showing up at an accident is forbidden.

Also during the 2011 legislative year Herbert signed multiple bills designed to improve safety on the state’s roadways. One new law increases the level of scrutiny for illegal immigrants to obtain driving privileges while another rule change helps refugees attain their driver’s licenses.

This past spring Herbert signed into law a bill to limit what local governments can do when enacting ordinances that limit idling for cars and trucks.

Three warning citations are required to be doled out before a ticket can be issued. Fines could only be structured the same as a parking violation.

Any ordinance can be enforced only on private property that is accessible to the public, such as parking lots. Private driveways are off limits for idling enforcement.

One notable veto from the governor covered a sales tax increase for roads. In 2011, Herbert vetoed a bill to route a growing percentage of certain sales tax proceeds for transportation. He cited an unwillingness to commit sales tax revenue to roads and bridges that would reduce funding for other priorities – such as education.

State lawmakers later overturned the veto to earmark 30 percent of any increases in sales tax revenues to roads for a five-year period. Starting in 2013, about $59.6 million in sales tax revenue will be shifted from the state’s general fund to the highway fund.

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