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.
On this and the following pages, you will find a roundup of some significant action from around the country. For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit ooida.com and click on “Issues & Actions.” You can also visit landlinemag.com and click on “Legislative Watch.”
Awaiting consideration before the full Senate, HB127 would increase the maximum gross vehicle, 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. If approved there, it would advance to Gov. Bob Riley’s desk.
A bill on the House floor is intended to give the state another option to keep open rest areas. HB2645 would allow the Arizona DOT to make agreements with counties, cities, towns or private groups for improvements and maintenance of rest areas.
Automated enforcement is under scrutiny in the Senate. One bill would prohibit a photo system from being placed on roads within 600 feet of a speed limit change. SB1443 would also require vehicles to be traveling in excess of 11 mph of the posted limit to set off the cameras. Exceptions would be made in school and work zones. In addition, 35 percent of fine revenue would be used for new law enforcement equipment.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a budget bill that puts an end to collection of a 6 percent sales tax on gasoline. It will be replaced with an additional 17.3 cent per gallon applied on the excise tax.
For diesel, the sales tax will increase 1.75 percent while the excise tax will be reduced by 4.4 cents per gallon.
The changes allow some accounting maneuvers to put more money into the state’s general fund.
Truckers should be encouraged by the progress of a bill that would transfer responsibility for the state’s Ports of Entry from the Colorado Department of Revenue to the State Patrol.
Awaiting consideration before the full House, HB1113 would continue to have the motor carrier services division of the Department of Revenue responsible for personnel and facilities dealing with motor vehicle registrations, while the State Patrol would be responsible for enforcement-related and certain permit-related functions at POEs.
The goal of a bill in the Senate Transportation Committee is to herd trucks to the right on grades of 6 percent or more for at least one mile along Interstate 70.
Gov. Mitch Daniels has signed into law three bills of note. SB382 authorizes a private group to build and operate the Illiana Expressway in exchange for toll revenue.
Also included is a provision authorizing a public-private partnership project for bridges over the Ohio River linking Indiana and Kentucky. In addition, INDOT is responsible for studying high-speed rail in northern Indiana.
Other provisions require an economic impact study and environmental analysis, as well as a public hearing once the study is complete and another one after a private developer is found.
In a move that truckers have been waiting for, HB1084 authorizes trucks equipped with APUs to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.
Also included is a provision that addresses federal certification for hauling metal coils that originate or terminate in Indiana. Truck drivers are prohibited from hauling one or more metal coils individually, or grouped together, weighing at least 5,000 pounds unless the operator is certified in proper load securement. It takes effect July 1.
Also taking effect July 1, SB186 increases the state’s regulations on the shipment of radioactive materials within the state by truck or rail.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is responsible for issuing permits for the transportation of radioactive materials on the state’s roadways.
Shippers of affected loads are required to notify the state how much of the material is being transported, the route and means of transportation, as well as the schedule.
Two bills of interest are awaiting consideration in the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
A735 would authorize “appropriately trained” local law enforcement officers to inspect trucks. Officers would be authorized to conduct random roadside inspections of vehicles and combinations of vehicles to determine whether they meet the legal weights and measures restrictions. Trained officers also would be authorized to conduct inspections and break cargo seals of vehicles carrying hazardous materials, as well as conduct roadside emissions inspections.
A1056 would allow sheriff’s officers to require truck drivers to take their rigs to weigh stations or other locations to be weighed, but only if officers have probable cause to believe trucks are in violation of state weight limits. The State Police would keep the sole authority to conduct random roadside weight checks.
The House voted to advance to the Senate a bill that would authorize regions of the state to come up with new ways to pay for transportation projects, including tolls, which are intended to drive economic development.
HB166 would allow for the creation of 24 transportation innovation authorities. The authorities could pay for road, bridge, transit and light rail projects through special fees, dedicated sales or income taxes, or tolls.
Senate lawmakers approved a bill that would have legislators decide whether the state’s Turnpike Authority should consider building a new toll road in Tulsa. It has moved to the House.
SB1764 would authorize the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to conduct a toll feasibility study 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.
The House version – HB3220 – has advanced to the Senate.
A new law makes changes to rules concerning commercial driver’s licenses to comply with FMCRs. Among the changes in SB16 are provisions to beef up out-of-service violations. Fines for first offenders would be $2,500, instead of as little as $1,100.
Motor carriers would 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 more than double the existing fine.
Another provision would double the duration of a driver’s suspension for violating an OOS order.
Three new laws are of interest.
SB183 limits trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds to idling for no more than 15 minutes per hour.
Starting in July affected trucks will be exempted from the time limit rule when temperatures are lower than 40 degrees or higher than 75 degrees.
Responsibility for idling violations could be placed on vehicle owners, as well as operators. In addition, owners or operators of locations where vehicles load and unload will also face fines for violations.
One other provision authorizes trucks equipped with APUs to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.
SB427 enables the Parkways Authority to pursue selling bonds to build new highways, and collect tolls on those roads to pay off the bonds.
Another provision gives county commissions veto power over toll roads. Also included in the bill is a provision to focus the Parkways Authority’s attention solely on roads. The agency is required to separate itself from dealing with economic development and tourism.
SB396 makes changes to West Virginia law concerning CDLs to comply with FMCSRs. It takes effect July 2.
Among the changes included in the bill are measures to beef up out-of-service violations. Fines more than double while the length of a driver’s suspension also doubles. Also included in the bill is a provision clarifying that hazardous materials endorsements cannot be issued for terms longer than five years – the same as federal law.
Soon truckers traveling through Wyoming won’t be the only ones banned from texting while driving. Effective July 1, a new law includes anyone driving under a statewide ban. Previously SF20, the law makes violations a primary offense, meaning law enforcement could pull over drivers solely for texting. Offenders would face $75 fines. LL