By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
The majority of state legislatures have wrapped up their work for this calendar year. A special thanks to those of you who followed what took place in your state and who tipped us off on initiatives you cared about.
Here’s our end-of-summer review of bills you found of interest. It’s a roundup of what passed in recent weeks, as well as other items still active. For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit landlinemag.com and click on “Legislative Watch.” You can also visit ooida.com and click on “Introduction” under the “Issues & Actions” tab.
Two bills halfway through the statehouse cover trucking. AB2118 would prohibit household goods movers from being brokers. A broker would be defined as “a person engaged for others” in setting up household goods hauls on behalf of shippers.
AB2477 would authorize use of video cameras on truck windshields. More specifically, the cameras could be posted in the upper center portion of the windshield.
Intended to settle a dispute about police powers for sheriffs and deputies in the state, a new law affirms that county sheriffs cannot make arrests or issue citations. Typically, sheriff duties consist of running tax and foreclosure sales and serving court papers.
On Gov. Jack Markell’s desk is a bill to revamp the state’s lane-use rule to crack down on drivers lingering in the far left-hand lane. HB140 would authorize police to issue citations for using the left lane for anything other than passing. Offenders would face fines of up to $230 “when they impede the flow of other traffic.”
On the governor’s desk is a bill – SB2888 – to take the option of court supervision away from drivers who break the posted speed limit by more than 25 mph on local roads and 30 mph on highways. Supervisions allow speeders to pay a fine and, in some instances, attend traffic school to avoid having violations added to their driving record.
A new law now in effect allows military personnel and veterans from Iowa to receive their CDL without passing a driving test. However, the written portion of the testing is not waived. Previously HF2403, the new law specifies that affected applicants must be on active duty or separated honorably within the past 90 days.
Another new rule in place boosts the punishment for failure to abide by the state’s “move over” law. Violations that result in property damage or injury to others would carry fines of at least $500 – up from $100. Mandatory suspension of driving privileges would also result.
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill to take more uninsured vehicles off roadways. Louisiana law already authorizes towing of uninsured vehicles when a driver cannot provide proof of insurance on second and subsequent violations. Starting Aug. 1, HB1053 authorizes towing after a first violation of the state’s mandatory vehicle insurance law.
Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill to require opportunities for public comment on proposed toll increases. Specifically, a 10-day public warning is required before any MTA discussion to increase tolls, fees or other charges. Additional time for public comment is required after the final meeting.
SB820 also provides the public with a 10-day notice before any authority vote to increase tolls, fees or other charges. An opportunity for public comment would be required at the meeting where a vote is expected.
A new law makes sure more money collected at the fuel pump is used on pavement. SB351 earmarks a portion of state sales tax revenue to help fix and maintain roads. Until now, sales tax was imposed on motor fuel purchases, but none of the revenue went to roads.
Multiple Senate bills are of note. S1952 would ban municipalities from using ticket cameras. Specifically, municipalities would be forbidden from adopting ordinances to post cameras. Municipalities now using the technology would be forced to abandon their programs.
S1968 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.
S1866 would authorize Delaware River Port Authority police officers to inspect hazardous materials hauls on four bridges connecting southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
S1874 would require both portions of the examinations for personal driver’s licenses – written test and skill test – to be administered only in English. Applicants would also be required to understand traffic signs and signals written in English. In addition, they would be prohibited from using translators while taking the tests.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law two bills to transform Oklahoma bridges. HB2248 authorizes $59.7 million annually – an $18 million increase – from income tax collections for bridge repairs. It also raises the fund’s annual spending cap by $140 million from $435 million.
HB2249 increases the amount counties receive each year to repair roads and bridges by $30 million through vehicle fees and penalties now routed to the general revenue fund.
Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law a bill to protect the use of automated enforcement in Philadelphia through July 2017. HB254 also authorizes the city’s suburban communities with populations of more than 20,000 people to post red light-cameras for the next five years.
In addition, the new law adds the city of Pittsburgh to the list of communities authorized to use ticket cameras.
The House voted unanimously to advance a bill to fine travelers who ignore temporary police barricades and drive through flooded areas during and after storms. HB2199 would fine violators between $250 and $500. The punishment would not end there. Offenders would have two points added to their driver’s licenses, as well as be responsible for picking up the tab for any rescue that is necessary.
Two new laws are of interest. S2328/H7294 prohibits commercial vehicles weighing more than four tons from using state Route 114 in Warren as a through route. Affected loads will be allowed to travel north of Child Street (state Route 103) on Main Street to get to and from Barrington.
Violators would face $50 fines, with second and subsequent offenses resulting in $100 fines.
H7409/S2606 prohibits retailers of “essential commodities” from engaging in price gouging during a market emergency or when a declaration of a state of emergency is issued. Essential commodities included in the protection include motor fuels, home heating fuels, food and water. Violators of the new rule would face as much as $25,000 fines per day. LL