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State Watch
What’s happening in your state legislature?

By Keith Goble
state legislative editor

 

As the end of the calendar year approaches, OOIDA is focused on legislation that truckers will need to keep an eye on during the upcoming year. During the next few months, state lawmakers from all corners of the country will rapidly add to the list by offering new bills. In addition, unfinished bills from the previous session will likely resurface.

It is estimated there will be nearly 170,000 bills brought before state lawmakers in 2010. Not all of them will be covered on these pages, but readers will be able to find bills of significance to their trucking business.

For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit ooida.com or landlinemag.com and click on “Legislative Watch.”

FLORIDA
A bill that has been prefiled for consideration during the 2010 regular session would give law enforcement more authority to ticket drivers who block traffic in the far-left hand lane, even if they are driving the speed limit. A failure to stay to the right would be included as one of the offenses that make up “aggressive careless driving.”

S482 would prohibit travelers from driving in the left lane of a multilane highway when they are about to be overtaken by another vehicle.

MASSACHUSETTS
Three bills in the Joint Committee on Transportation are of interest to the trucking industry.

H3334 would increase the maximum gross vehicle, bridge formula, and axle weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. Trucks equipped with auxiliary power units would be authorized to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

H3641 would modify the state’s idling rule. The bill includes a provision that is intended to limit idling while trucks wait to load or unload. Owners of locations served by trucks would be prohibited from causing vehicles to idle for more than 30 minutes while waiting to do business at the location.

Exceptions would be included for situations when vehicles are stuck in traffic, when they are required by law enforcement to stop, or when idling is necessary to operate defrosters, heaters, air conditioners or other equipment “solely to prevent a safety or health emergency” that is not part of a rest period.

During rest periods and while waiting to load or unload, idling would be allowed for air conditioning or heating purposes.

H3350 would get tough with truck drivers who fail to clear snow and ice off their vehicles. The bill specifies that the wintry precipitation be removed when accumulation amounts to one-quarter of an inch thick or more.

“It shall be the responsibility of the owner, as well as the operator of such vehicle to ensure the removal of accumulated snow and ice” before departure.

Violators would face fines of at least $100. If injury or property damage occurs, fines would increase to $500.

MICHIGAN
Rep. Shanelle Jackson, D-Detroit, has taken the lead in pursuing legislation that would call on Michigan truckers to pay even more taxes to the state.

Her first bill would once again eliminate the sales tax exemption for purchases of rolling stock by interstate trucking operations. HB5393 would tax large trucks, trailers and related parts in proportion to their use in the state.

HB5391 would end the exemption from use tax for the storage, use or consumption of rolling stock by interstate operations that drive at least 10 percent of their mileage outside the state.

HB5392 would essentially tax rolling stock in proportion to its use in the state. Interstate trucking operations would get a credit against the sales and use taxes for sales or use tax paid on the purchase, rental, lease or use of rolling stock used in interstate commerce, based on miles driven outside Michigan.

SOUTH DAKOTA
The Joint Transportation Committee voted 11-6 to pursue legislation that would raise fuel taxes by 10 cents over two years, increase the excise tax on vehicles by 1 percent, and boost vehicle registration fees. The committee’s recommendation will be presented to the full Legislature during the session that opens in January.

WYOMING
A joint interim transportation panel voted to go ahead on plans to pursue legislation that would allow the state DOT to come up with a plan to toll Interstate 80.

The committee voted to give the highway commission authority to become a tolling agency. In addition, WyDOT would be allowed to devise a master plan to study various tolling scenarios.

Another revenue generator drawing consideration is a fuel tax increase. At press time, the Joint Revenue Interim Committee was soon expected to discuss a draft bill to increase the fuel tax by a dime during the next two years. LL

 

keith_goble@landlinemag.com

Aug/Sept Digital Edition