By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
Elected officials in close to half of all statehouses throughout the country continue to consider bills that affect your trucking business. We know you don't have time to keep up with all the legislative action. That's why your Association keeps a close watch on action 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 landlinemag.com and click on "Legislative Watch" under the "important Info" tab. You can also visit ooida.com and click on "Introduction" under the "Issues & Actions" tab. Or simply scan this QR code.
A new law already in effect is intended to improve fairness for truck drivers doing business in the state. HB339 does away with indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. The clauses are set up to protect shippers or hold them harmless from anything that happens with a shipment.
Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill to divvy between the state and Santa Cruz County and the city of Nogales fees from a special single-trip excess weight permit fee.
The $75 permit allows produce haulers crossing the border to exceed 80,000 pounds – up to 90,800 pounds. SB1232 routes 50 percent of the permit fees to the state's highway fund. The county and the city of Nogales will split the rest.
The governor, however, vetoed a bill to allow drivers more time to clear an intersection before cameras snap pictures of their license plates. Arizona law now defines an intersection as an area within imaginary lines extended from each curb. HB2557 would have set the beginning of an intersection at a stop bar or crosswalk line. Drivers would have been allowed to cross these markings until the light turns red.
Multiple bills at the statehouse are of interest to truckers. AB2118 would prohibit household goods movers from being brokers. Also, the Public Utilities Commission could order the removal of online postings by unlicensed household goods movers. Affected haulers could face fines of up to $5,000 each day for false claims.
SB1092 would require construction trucking brokers to disclose a copy of his or her surety bond to dump truck operators. In addition, if the work has already been completed and the broker has not made payment, the dump truck operator can easily access the bond information to file a claim.
SB1303 would establish statewide standards for installation and operation of ticket cameras by local governments. Communities would be required to show that "the system is needed at a specific location for reasons related to safety." The provision would affect ticket systems installed after Jan. 1, 2013. Existing systems would be required to be in compliance the following year.
AB2192 is intended to close a loophole allowing police officers and other state workers to get around paying parking tickets, toll violations or red-light camera fines. The home addresses of the government workers, and their family members, are not displayed in the Department of Motor Vehicles' public-access records.
The bill would require confidential plate holders to submit a current employment address. Tickets would be mailed to that location.
Winding its way through the statehouse, HB5094 would require travelers on roadways with at least two lanes each direction to make way for emergency personnel.
One vote away from heading to 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 $4.5 billion transportation budget was approved to fund transportation programs for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. Projects that include the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville and widening Interstate 65 through three counties are part of a two-year road plan that listed road and bridge work that would be funded, and projects that need additional funds to get done.
Nearing completion at the statehouse is a bill to bring Louisiana's commercial driver's licensing rules in compliance with FMCSRs. HB587 would impose lengthier suspensions for drivers caught violating an OOS order. Another provision in the bill would specifically prohibit texting while driving truck. Violations would be considered a "serious traffic violation."
Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill authorizing the Maine DOT to move forward with plans for a feasibility study on a proposed 220-mile east-west highway that would connect two Canadian provinces. The four-lane route's price tag is estimated at $2 billion.
Effective Oct. 1, a new law modifies the circumstances when a police officer is required to allow an overweight vehicle carrying perishable products to continue to its destination, without unloading. SB116 allows truckers to continue on their way if the overweight violation is their first weight violation in the past 365 days. The load must also be within 5,000 pounds of the weight limit. Eligibility for exemption is limited to one for each motor carrier per year.
The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill to do away with indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. The clauses are set up to protect shippers or hold them harmless from anything that happens with a shipment. SB873 specifies provisions in affected contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence are "void and unenforceable."
A bill nearing passage would make sure more money collected at the fuel pump is used on pavement. SB351 would earmark a portion of state sales tax revenue to help fix and maintain roads. Now, sales tax is imposed on motor fuel purchases, but none of the revenue goes to roads.
At press time lawmakers were trying to hammer out a deal on a bill to force MODOT to establish minimum yellow light change intervals for traffic signals. One provision in SB611 would require yellow standards to be set in accordance with nationally recognized engineering standards. The standards specify times somewhere between three and six seconds.
Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill to boost the maximum penalty for driving recklessly to five years in prison – up from 18 months in current law. Offenders would also face up to $15,000 fines – up from $10,000. Under S1468, offenses that could result in stiffer punishment include sudden changes in speed, erratic and improper lane changes, or following too closely.
A bill in the Assembly Transportation Committee would change how the state numbers interstate exits. A8151 calls for the Thruway Authority, in consultation with the state DOT, to develop and implement a plan to convert the chronological exit numbers to a mileage-based system.
Awaiting House floor consideration is a bill that could result in cars and trucks being authorized to drive 70 mph on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. HB2119 would affect portions of the turnpike system posted at 65 mph. On these stretches, the turnpike commission would be given permission to perform an engineering analysis to determine where the speed limit could be safely increased to 70 mph.
The House already approved a bill to authorize $49.5 million to fix or replace bridges that were damaged or destroyed by 2011 flood waters. HB1915 would route revenue to pay for the work from the state's motor license fund. Federal disaster-aid money would be supplemented.
A House bill would dissolve the Turnpike and Bridge Authority and transfer all duties and functions to the state DOT. H7457 would also transfer to Rhode Island DOT all powers, control and jurisdiction of and title to the Sakonnet River Bridge. LL