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State Legislative News

Arkansas

New legislation just introduced in Arkansas by Rep. Brenda Gullett and Sen. Jay Bradford would impose stiff penalties for speeding truckers. HB1842 would levy a $500 to $1,000 fine on truckers driving over 70 mph on Arkansas roads. The bill cites the public danger and damage to the road as reason for the severe fine structure. Revenue from the fines, however, would not go toward repair. According to the bill's language, the money would go to a special fund for Arkansas State Police.

Lane Kidd, president of the Arkansas Motor Carriers Association, says the group's board of directors have voted to endorse the legislation. In fact, the group helped draft the bill. OOIDA does not share this philosophy, says OOIDA's executive VP Todd Spencer.

"We think fines have much more to do with raising revenues," says Spencer. "For trucking company officials to advocate higher fines for drivers is the height of hypocrisy. Those very same companies pay their drivers by the mile."

The legislation would apply to any vehicle weighing 20,000 lbs. or more. Arkansas truckers may contact Rep. Gullett at 870-535-3050 or e-mail bgullett@arkleg.state.ar.us

Indiana

SB 210, introduced by Sen. Allie Craycraft, calls for changing the definition of "worksite" to include certain lanes of a highway leading up to a construction area. After being directed by a sign to merge into another lane, all motorists would be prohibited from passing another vehicle. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Procedures.

SB 522 proposes to exempt anyone who held a commercial driver's license prior to April 1, 1992 from federal requirements for minimum distant binocular visual acuity. This legislation applies only to drivers engaged in intrastate commerce. Sen. Lindel Hume is the author of SB 522, which has been assigned to the Committee on Transportation and Interstate Cooperation.

SB 99, authored by Sen. Robert Meeks, will make it a Class C infraction for a vehicle to be driven continuously in the left lane of a multi-lane roadway if it impedes the flow of other traffic. The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Procedures.

SB 231 calls for restricting trucks to the right lane only on US 31 in Howard County (Kokomo area). However the wording of the bill, introduced by Sen. Joseph Zakas, will make it possible for other counties to implement similar restrictions. The bill reads "With regard to a county having a population of more than 78,000, but less than 85,000, the Indiana Department of Transportation shall adopt rules to restrict the operation of the truck to the right lane of a U.S. route that: (1) has four or more lanes; and (2) is maintained by the state. The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Transportation and Interstate Cooperation. The general information numbers for the Indiana legislature are (Senate) 317-232-9400 and (House) 317-232-9600.

New Mexico

In addition to promoting split speed limits, Sen. Skip Vernon has also introduced a bill (SB 305) to permit the use of photoradar to ticket commercial motor vehicles for speeding. Vernon is also the author of a bill (SB 302) that will limit trucks to the "right-most travel lane" on multi-lane highways unless they're passing another vehicle.

Freshman Rep. Ron Godbey, who supports Vernon on the issue of lower speeds for trucks, has announced he plans to introduce a bill that calls for dramatically higher speeding fines for trucks. Currently the fine for 16 to 20 miles over the speed limit is $104. Godbey proposes to increase the fine to $1,040. New Mexico legislature information numbers are (general information) 505-986-4600, (Senate) 505-986-4714, and (House) 505-986-4751.

Oklahoma

SB 1, sponsored by Sens. Long, Ford, and Shurden and Reps. Taylor and Adair, calls for increasing the first time registration fee for trailers from $40 to $100, and the annual renewal fee to increase from $4 to $20. In addition, the bill also asks the legislature to eliminate the state's $10 excise flat fee on vehicles with a GVW of 54,000 pounds or greater, and replace it with a three and one-quarter percent tax rate. The bill was filed before the beginning of the session, and has not yet been assigned to a committee. Oklahoma legislative information numbers are (Senate) 405-524-0126 and (House) 405-521-2711.

Missouri

Rep. Gracia Backer's proposal (HB 444) calls for truckers (operating trucks with a GVW of 54,000 pounds or more) caught doing in excess of 75 mph in 70 mph zone to be fined $1,000. Those drivers would also be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, which can carry an additional penalty of up to one year in jail. The good news is this bill is still stuck in committee.

The bad news is another measure passed the Missouri House on Feb. 17. HB 338 (sponsored by Rep. Don Koller) calls for truckers to be fined $100 for every mile in excess of 75 mph in a 70 mph zone, without the addition of the Class A misdemeanor penalty. However, any trucker caught doing less than 70 mph in the left lane of a highway with a posted speed of 70 mph could be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $1,000 and as much as one year in jail.

Missouri truckers, your lawmakers need to hear from you now. Missouri legislative information numbers are (general information) 573-751-3824, (Senate) 573-751-3766, and (House) 573-751-3659.

Montana

If it becomes law, HB 18, sponsored by Rep. Bob Lawson, will mandate that all vehicles traveling on the state's multi-lane highways drive in the far right lane unless passing another vehicle or preparing to make a left turn. The bill has been assigned to the Transportation Committee. The general information number for the Montana legislature is 406-444-4800, fax 406-444-3036.

North Dakota

HB 1129 may impose fines of $500 for dumping containers of human waste along roadsides, and increase fines for other roadside littering from $20 to $50. The bill was introduced by the Transportation Committee at the request of Ray Zink, deputy director of the state's Department of Transportation. Zink voiced health concerns for his department's employees who he says are sometimes sprayed with human waste when mowers rupture discarded containers. North Dakota legislative information numbers are (general information) 701-328-2916, (Senate) 701-328-3373, and (House) 701-328-2916.

Iowa

SF 16, authored by Sen. Michael Connolly, will mandate that a vehicle's headlights must be on when the windshield wipers are in continuous operation. The bill calls for a fine of $20 for violators. The bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. Iowa legislative information numbers are (general information) 515-281-5129, (Senate) 515-281-3371, and (House) 515-281-3221.

Michigan

Detroit city officials are scratching their heads over needed money for the city's road repair. The city has approached the Michigan Motor Carrier Enforcement Division of the Michigan State Police with a pitch to conduct weight enforcement within the city limits. The city has even suggested they would build a scale within their boundaries if the state motor carrier enforcement division would staff it. The revenue generated from such activities would go directly to the city of Detroit for road fixes.

While this solution has the city licking its lips over anticipated revenue, Michigan truckers are likely to be up in arms over being eyeballed as the proverbial cash cow. One aspect of the controversy will stem from the legality of building a scale for revenue generation. By law, the revenue generated by enforcement agencies is supposed to benefit statewide interests consistent with the current Motor Carrier Safety Act and the Michigan Vehicle code fund distribution formulas. In other words, monies collected from motor carrier enforcement should go to the library funds in the state, not to local city coffers. Last year, the Michigan Motor Carrier Advisory Board adopted a resolution recognizing the seriousness of the problem. Legislation was introduced during the last legislative session that was designed to address the issue, but it was introduced too late in the session for chance of passage. Any legislative activity for the current session is being delayed until proponents prepare a strong position on the issue.

Another issue looming on Michigan's legislative agenda is the possibility of once again trying to raise the diesel fuel tax another four cents per gallon. The AAA supported this action during the last legislative session, but it failed. According to sources, the Governor has hinted he would support such an effort. OOIDA opposed this in the past and will continue to do so.

Truckers in Michigan should voice their concerns with the fuel tax increase or any efforts of the city of Detroit to use truckers as a source of revenue. You should also let them know that you support efforts to remove the revenue incentive from local jurisdictions stimulated by money garnered from motor carrier enforcement. For information on how to contact your state lawmakers, call the Michigan Legislature. General information is 517-373-0170. LL

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