By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
The majority of state legislatures have wrapped up their work for this year. A special thanks to those of you who followed what took place in your state and tipped us off on initiatives important to you.
Here’s our early fall roundup of what passed in recent weeks and of other noteworthy items still active.
For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit ooida.com and click on “Introduction” under the “Issues & Actions” tab.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed multiple bills of interest. They take effect Jan. 1, 2013.
AB1888 permits professional drivers to attend traffic school to remove traffic violations occurring in their personal vehicles from their records.
AB2118 prohibits household goods movers from being brokers. Brokers are to be defined as “a person engaged for others” in setting up household goods hauls on behalf of shippers.
SB1092 is intended to help contracted subhaulers with brokers. Specifically, construction trucking brokers will be required to disclose a copy of their surety bond, which current state law mandates they possess.
AB2659 authorizes the DMV to waive the driving skills test for a truck driver with military commercial motor vehicle experience. To be eligible, applicants must be licensed with the U.S. Armed Forces.
AB1708 gives drivers the option to present their proof of vehicle insurance by smartphone or other mobile device. It also clarifies to law enforcement that the electronic version of this document is equivalent to the paper form and acceptable to use during a traffic stop or following a wreck.
AB2489 authorizes $250 fines for drivers who alter, or cover, their license plates to avoid tickets for red-light camera violations.
AB1518 enables a weighmaster for construction loads to use an unattended weighing system. Affected loads include dirt, stone, sand, gravel and ready mixed concrete.
A new law exempts Michigan companies and operators with gross weights under 26,001 pounds operating intrastate from annual and “spot” traffic inspections; federal registration and the display of USDOT numbers; logbooks and other records; and minimum bonding requirements.
A Senate-approved bill would do away with indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. SB873 would outlaw the provisions in contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence and make them “void and unenforceable.”
Also under consideration, SB1192 would prohibit passing another vehicle within one mile of a highway work zone. “No passing” signage alerting drivers of the rule would also be required to be posted two miles before the work zone begins.
SB1165 would offer reduced tolls for trucks crossing the Mackinac Bridge. Specifically, the bridge authority would be responsible for setting up a commuter discount toll for large trucks that make at least two trips across the bridge within 36 hours.
Halfway through the statehouse is a four-bill package that is intended to help curtail excessive perks and compensation at multiple bi-state transportation agencies.
One bill – AB1247 – would restrict Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials and employees use of company vehicles, overnight travel, personal expense accounts and toll passes.
The remaining bills in the package – AB1244, AB1245 and AB1246 – cover concerns about excessive perks and compensation at the Delaware River Port Authority, the Delaware River and Bay Authority and the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.
Awaiting consideration on the Assembly floor is a bill to add to the list of police officers in the state authorized to inspect hazardous materials hauls. Specifically, S1816 would extend the authority to include Delaware River Port Authority police officers.
Other bills of note include an effort to allow the Turnpike Authority to study possible methods to increase current revenue and generate new revenue. S896 authorizes further study into opportunities that include additional services – including business, commercial or retail – at rest areas and service plazas along the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.
A3285 would increase yellow times at intersections outfitted with red-light cameras by one full second. Another change would reduce the fine amount for turning right on red without coming to a full stop from $85 to $20.
Also included in the bill is a provision to add a one-half second leeway from automated tickets for vehicles entering an intersection once lights turn red.
A3194 would allow for suspension of commercial vehicle registration under certain circumstances. Suspensions would be authorized if the owner, driver or operator of the vehicle has failed to pay fines or penalties for motor vehicle violations.
S69 would put in place a “three strikes” policy when dealing with distracted drivers. Fines for first-time offenders would increase to $200 fines – up from $100. Repeat offenses could result in $400 fines, while subsequent offenses would cost $600. Third-time offenders would also face the loss of driving privileges for 90 days. In addition, three points would be added to licenses.
The Interim Transportation Committee met recently to discuss various rule changes that will be pursued during the upcoming regular session.
One issue that is expected to draw a lot of consideration would boost the fine for speeding on highways in the state as much as 500 percent.
Cities throughout the state would also be allowed to adopt their own traffic ordinances to raise their own fines.
Another proposal would return the regulation of commercial driver training schools from the Highway Patrol to the state DOT. The patrol took over responsibility for the schools from NDDOT in the 1980s.
A House-approved bill would entitle military veterans to a special designation on their driver’s licenses, or identification cards, at no extra charge.
HB2428 requires PennDOT to make the special designation available to persons who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard and who have been honorably discharged. LL