By Keith Goble
state legislative editor
We know you don’t have time to keep up with all of the bills being considered in your home state that affect your trucking business. That’s why your Association keeps a close watch on legislative action in statehouses for you.
Here and on the following pages, you will find a roundup of some significant action from around the country. For an expanded rundown of state legislation, visit ooida.com and click on “Issues & Actions.” You can also visit landlinemag.com and click on “Legislative Watch.”
The Legislature has given the go-ahead to put before voters a question about rerouting $1 billion from a state savings account for roads and bridges.
Because it is a proposed amendment to the Alabama Constitution, voters will get the final say on the Nov. 2 ballot.
SB121 seeks to remove $100 million annually for 10 years from the Alabama Trust Fund. The fund has about $2.6 billion accumulated from natural gas wells drilled in state-owned waters along the Alabama coast.
A Senate bill 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.
House and Senate lawmakers have advanced similar bills to toughen punishment for excessive speeding.
HB6463 would prohibit judges from issuing court supervision to anyone found guilty of driving at least 40 mph in excess of the speed limit.
SB3796 includes a provision that could charge drivers found speeding 30 to 40 mph above the limit with a Class B misdemeanor. Anyone caught driving more than 40 mph in excess of the speed limit could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill modifying state law concerning CDLs to comply with FMCSRs. It takes effect July 1.
Previously SB74, the new law significantly increases fines for drivers found violating OOS orders. Instead of first offenders facing a $1,000 fine, they would be responsible for paying $2,500 fines.
Motor carriers also face greater punishment. Employers convicted of knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing a driver in OOS status to get behind the wheel would face fines between $2,750 and $25,000. The fine has been $2,500.
As of July 1, a new law permits the largest trucks traveling along certain routes to pack more freight.
Iowa law has permitted six- and seven-axle vehicles hauling livestock or some construction loads, such as rock or soil, to weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Affected loads on six-axle vehicles can weigh up to 90,000 lbs. while seven-axle loads can weigh up to 96,000 lbs. The heavier loads are permitted only on non-interstate highways.
Previously HF2512, the new law authorizes all commodities loaded on trucks with six or seven axles to haul 96,000 lbs.
At press time, awaiting consideration on the Senate floor is a proposed 10-year, $8.2 billion transportation program that would increase the state’s sales tax and vehicle registration fees and authorize the use of bonds.
H2650 would authorize bonds to be issued to foot the bill for road, rail, air and public transit projects.
The state’s sales tax would be increased from 5.3 percent to 5.6 percent. Annual vehicle registration fees for smaller vehicles would increase $20. Large trucks would pay an extra $135.
House lawmakers have forwarded to the Senate a bill that is intended to save the LA DOTD $280,500 annually. HB764 throws out a requirement that highway signs be posted alerting the public about how much a road project costs, as well as the project start and finish dates.
The Senate has advanced a bill to the House that would boost penalties for large trucks found in violation of lane restrictions in St. Charles County. Violators would face $300 fines – up from $200 – and 15 days in jail.
A separate provision would revise a law limiting the amount of general operating revenue a town or city can receive from traffic violations to 35 percent.
SB781 would expand it to prohibit communities from making 35 percent of its general revenue from moving and nonmoving violations.
A ban on texting while driving for all drivers is also included.
A bill on the governor’s desk would modify the length of a driver’s suspension for violating an out-of-service order. HB1452 would make the suspension for getting behind the wheel of a truck subject to an OOS order between six months and one year. State law now authorizes 90 day suspensions.
Hauling hazmat in a truck subject to an OOS order would result in a loss of driving privileges for six months to two years – up from a maximum of six months.
A bill in the Senate Transportation Committee addresses a failed effort to ban all local truck traffic on seven secondary roads in upstate New York. S7177 would require the NYSDOT to show a “demonstrated public safety hazard” before commercial vehicles could be restricted from state highways.
The Assembly version – A10302 – is in the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Gov. Brad Henry has signed a bill into law allowing the state’s Turnpike Authority to consider building a new toll road in Tulsa. HB3220 authorizes a toll feasibility study to be done for the route. With a price tag of about $200 million, the 11-mile stretch of road would link the Tulsa end of the Turner Turnpike to the L.L. Tisdale Expressway.
Legislation on the move – HB262/SB63 – would require all portions of the driver’s license exam to be administered in English.
Exceptions would be made for persons legally authorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to be in the country for a “specific purpose.”
Gov. Joe Manchin signed into law a bill allowing counties to access user fees and bonds to help pay for road work. Counties would have to get approval from voters before issuing user fees and bonds.
Previously SB352, the new law requires counties to submit plans for transportation projects to the commissioner of highways. Approval from the commissioner will be required before counties could get started on road work. LL