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State Legislative Update

AZ truck speed limits will stay at 75

On July 5, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced the results of their study of speed limits for commercial trucks. The study concluded that "maintaining the same speed limit for trucks and cars on the rural interstates is safer than establishing a lower limit for trucks.""There is a potential safety hazard when cars and trucks re required to travel at different speeds," said Mike Manthey, ADOT's state traffic engineer. "Potential conflicts occur when more vehicles are passing one another, increasing the chances of crashes between cars and large trucks."Earlier this year, the Arizona legislature passed a bill mandating a maximum speed limit for commercial trucks of 65 mph on rural interstates unless traffic and engineering studies determined that limits for trucks could safely be raised. The new speed limit was to have gone into effect July 18. ADOT began studying the speed limit issue when limits were raised in 1996 and was therefore able to compile their data and reach a decision before the effective date.

ADOT recommends that periodic studies be done to determine whether any changes in speed limits "should be suggested."

NC senator wants toll authority

Sen. Larry Shaw has introduced a bill to change the name of the North Carolina Bridge Authority to the North Carolina Toll Road and Bridge Authority. SB1365 will empower the authority to "charge a toll to expand or maintain any major north-south interstate route in the state that does not pass through a municipality with a population greater than 250,000."The bill provides that bridge tolls go into the Highway Trust Fund, but that monies collected in tolls on a particular interstate will be used for expanding or maintaining that interstate, "or for other transportation-related purposes." Maximum tolls would be $10.

The bill was assigned to the transportation committee. As the session winds to a close, it does not appear likely this bill will progress. N

Two states suspend sales tax on fuel

On June 27, Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon declared an "energy emergency" and issued an executive order suspending the state's 5 percent sales tax on motor fuels. The suspension began July 1 and will remain in effect for 60 days.

On June 29, Illinois Gov. George Ryan signed SB1310, emergency legislation that suspends the state's 5 percent sales tax on motor fuels and gasohol for six months. The Illinois suspension also began July 1 and will run through the end of the year.

Ohio bill targets vehicle noise

HB579 could give county commissioners and trustees of townships the authority to regulate engine brake noise if it becomes law. Current law mandates mufflers on all vehicles. However, this bill contains a provision that would prohibit "manipulating the transmission of any vehicle ... in a manner that results in the exhaust system emitting a loud, cracking or chattering noise unusual to its normal operation."

Trucking interests fear this would give local authorities the ability to target any trucker using an engine or exhaust brake, regardless of whether the truck was equipped with a muffler. The transportation committee heard testimony on the issue in June, but no further action was taken and the future of the bill is uncertain. Lawmakers return from their summer break in September.

Don't forget to vote

In November, Americans will elect a president and a vice-president. The entire House of Representatives and many senate seats will also be up for grabs. Governors, lawmakers, and/or other officials will be elected at the state level.Your vote is vitally important. Arm yourself with information about the issues that concern you the most, and find out how the candidates feel about those issues. Then cast your vote accordingly.

The next time you're home, register to vote. Don't put it off. Make arrangements for an absentee ballot, too. As a trucker, you never know where you'll be on election day. Don't waste your right to vote.

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