By Keith Goble
state legislative editor
As the new legislative year approaches, OOIDA is focused on providing truckers with information on important legislation during the coming year. In the next few months, state lawmakers from all corners of the country will rapidly add to the list by offering new bills.
It is estimated that nearly 150,000 bills will be brought before state lawmakers in 2011. Not all of them will be covered on these pages, but readers will be able to find bills of significance to their trucking business.
On this page, Land Line rounds up some recent action from statehouses.
A new law demands that CARB more effectively communicate with the businesses it regulates. SB1402 requires the agency to explain how it determines a penalty levied against a business, including trucking operations; the reason for the violation; and the specific code section violated.
Two bills at the statehouse are racing to beat the clock before the session ends. HB4098 would partially repeal the state’s seven-year-old driver responsibility fee program starting in 2012. Extra fees would be eliminated for drivers with multiple speeding tickets or other offenses, such as driving without a license or insurance. Fees added to offenses such as drunken driving and reckless driving would remain intact.
HB5287 calls for protections for police who are required to issue tickets to boost job performance results. Ticket writing in general still could be considered.
Both bills have been approved by the House and are in the Senate.
Multiple bills have been offered that would reform the Delaware River Port Authority. A3215 would alter the agency’s federal compact. To change DRPAs federal charter, identical legislation must be enacted in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and approved by the federal government.
S2348/A3381, S2350/A3383 and S2351/A3384 would impose restrictions concerning DRPA commissioners, officers and employees regarding employment, gifts and compensation for travel.
Another bill would boost the punishment for anyone who drives recklessly in an attempt to endanger someone. A676 would make the maximum penalty for driving recklessly five years in prison – up from 18 months in current law. Offenders would also face up to $15,000 fines – increased from $10,000.
A new law does away with indemnification clauses in motor carrier transportation contracts. Specifically, HB2375 voids indemnity provisions in all future contracts for the transportation, loading, unloading or incidental services of property by motor carriers for transportation. It takes effect Dec. 19.
Another new law exempts intrastate farm trucks and drivers of combination and single farm trucks from certain federal trucking regulations. Trucks weighing between 17,000 and 26,000 pounds, with farm truck plates or exemption stickers, are free of federal commercial standards.
Pennsylvania law has prohibited those vehicles from being operated by drivers 16 and 17 years old. Medical cards have also been required for affected drivers. In addition, operators have been responsible for logging hours of service and report activities for each trip, as well as following special requirements for vehicle inspection and repair. Previously HB2246, the new law removes those requirements.
As the curtain prepares to close on the legislative session, one bill of interest that could still make it to the governor’s desk would boost state control over the Delaware River Port Authority. SB1490 would also change the agency’s federal compact to prohibit DRPA from doing business with any company with financial ties to an agency board member.
To change DRPAs federal charter, identical legislation must be enacted in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and approved by the federal government. LL