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 expected that nearly 140,000 bills will be brought before state lawmakers in 2012. Not all of them will be covered on these pages, but readers will be able to find many bills of significance to their trucking business.
On this page, Land Line rounds up some recent action from statehouses. 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.”
Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled a plan to improve roads. Among the governor’s recommendations is eliminating the state’s fuel tax and replacing it with a percentage wholesale tax on fuel. Another recommendation from the governor is to increase state and local vehicle registration fees by $120 per year on the average vehicle.
Snyder also signed into law a bill that includes a provision for anyone caught in violation of an out-of-service order, including motor carriers, to face greater punishment. Previously SB495, the new law took effect immediately.
In addition, Michigan law already prohibits texting while driving any vehicle. Beginning Oct. 28, 2013, the rule will specifically prohibit the distracting activity while driving truck.
Another new law halts a $12 million deposit in road tax money to the state Transportation Economic Development Fund for two fiscal years. The fund pays for highway, road and street improvements related to a particular new plant or development. Instead, the revenue generated from driver’s license fees would be used for road construction and maintenance.
Still weaving its way through the statehouse is a bill to repeal extra fees applied to drivers for certain traffic offenses.
SB166 would end the collection of “bad driver” fees for such offenses as driving without insurance or a valid license, or accumulating seven or more points on their driving record. Fees for the worst-of-the-worst violations, such as drunken driving, fleeing police, and reckless driving, would continue to be collected.
Effective Jan. 1, a new law covers maneuvers in roundabouts. SB341 prohibits vehicles from driving alongside or passing large trucks in the one-way circular intersections that are used to control traffic instead of a stop sign or traffic signal. Trucks also will be allowed to use more than one lane to navigate through when necessary.
A bill halfway through the statehouse would protect the red-light camera program in Philadelphia, which is set to expire Dec. 31, 2011. SB595 would extend the expiration date by six years, and also authorize Pittsburgh, Scranton and 17 third-class cities with populations of at least 18,000 people to post cameras.
Rep. Margaret Cheney, D-Norwich, is expected to pursue a gas tax increase next year to help cover some of the expense of making road and bridge repairs following the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Truckers may be surprised to learn the plan does not include a bump in the diesel tax. LL