Texas Uniform Speed Bill Passes Senate Committee
On May 6, the Senate Committee on State Affairs approved a bill that will implement uniform speed limits for cars and trucks on most of the state's highways (the bill was amended by the House to exempt farm-to-market and ranch-to-market roads). HB 676, authored by Rep. Carl Isett, will now be sent to the full Senate for consideration. Sen. Teel Bivins is the Senate sponsor for HB 676, and will work to get the bill on the Senate calendar as quickly as possible. The legislative session ends May 31.
So far, the bill has moved smoothly through the legislative process, but this is no time for complacency. Texas truckers-contact your state Senators immediately and urge them to support safer, uniform speed limits by voting in favor of HB 676. The Texas Senate's general information number is 512-463-0063.
Another Speed Bill on the Move in Austin
Rep. Pete Gallego's HB 3328 was passed by the Texas House of Representatives on April 21. The bill calls for raising speed limits for cars and light trucks to 75 mph on rural interstate highways. The bill was amended on the House floor to raise speed limits to 80 mph on east-west interstates that run through counties having a population of less than 25,000 (primarily western areas of the state).
HB 4377, authored by Reps. Vear and Jelinek, calls for uniform speed limits on Michigan interstates. The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Transportation. It is important that Michigan truckers act now to urge their lawmakers to support safer, uniform speed limits. The general information number for the Michigan House of Representatives is 517-373-0135. The number for the clerk of the Committee on Transportation is 517-373-1743.
The House Transportation Committee seems to be dragging its feet with respect to HB 11, which will mandate uniform speed limits on the state's highways if it becomes law. In Ohio, separate committee hearings are held for proponents and opponents of a bill. A proponent hearing was held March 9, and the opponent hearing will likely be sometime in May. Truckers are encouraged to call members of the Transportation Committee and urge them to support HB11.
Committee members are Chairman, Rep. Sam Bateman (614-466-8134), Rep. John Bender (614-466-1366), Rep. Sam Britton (614-466-1308), Rep. John Carey (614-466-1366), Rep. Patricia Clancy, (614-466-9091), Rep. Rex Damschroder (614-466-1374), Rep. Joseph Haines, (614-466-2038), Rep. Priscilla Mead, (614-644-6005), Rep. Lynn Olman (614-466-1731), Rep. Sylvester Patton (614-466-9435), and Rep. Sally Perz (614-644-6017), and Rep. Jeanine Perry (614-466-1418).
Sen. Skip Vernon's determined efforts to lower truck speeds to 65 mph hit a brick wall in the state Senate. Vernon will likely try again next session.
Uniform 70 mph speedlimits on rural interstates have been given the go-ahead by both houses, and a conference committee was appointed to work out minor differences. The good news is the uniform speed limit provision was not altered. The bad news is a Senate amendment was attached to final bill mandating trucks in the right lane only on certain stretched of I-85, except when passing. The new speed limits will take effect as soon as signs are posted.
SB 700, HB 75, and HB 112, authored by Rep. Elcie Guillory have been assigned to their respective transportation committees. All three bills call for split speed limits (60 mph on rural interstates). The general information numbers for the legislature are (House) 504-342-6945 and (general information) 504-342-2040.
SB 558, authored by Sen. Randy Miller, will raise speed limits for automobiles to 75 mph and trucks to 65 mph if approved by the legislature. The bill has passed the Senate and has been assigned to the House Committee on Rules, Elections, and Public Affairs. Oregon truckers are urged to contact their representatives and make a case for uniform speed limits for all vehicles. The general information number for the Oregon legislature is 503-986-1187.
S. 1716, introduced by Sen. Joseph Vitale, will reduce truck speed limits to 55 mph (a split of 10 mph) on the Garden State's highways if it becomes law. The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Law and Public Safety. New Jersey truckers should contact their lawmakers to express their views on split speed limits. The general information number for the New Jersey legislature is 609-292-4840.
Other Speed Limit News
All bills aimed at raising or lowering speed limits in Georgia have failed to make it out of committee during the 1999 session.
In Virginia, HB 2488, authored by Rep. Andy Guest, would have raised speed limits for cars only to 70 mph. The bill died in the Transportation Committee.
A bill to lower truck speeds to 60 mph in Maryland was introduced by Sen. Arthur Dorman. However, SB 249 died in committee.
All efforts to raise speed limits in Indiana have failed.