State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

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 and click on “Introduction” under the “Issues & Actions” tab.

Multiple bills on the governor’s desk are of note. SB1434 would prohibit police from searching cellphones, or other devices, in certain instances without a warrant. Officers would be required to first obtain a search warrant when there is probable cause to believe a suspect’s phone contains evidence of a crime.

SB1092 is intended to help contracted subhaulers with brokers. Specifically, construction trucking brokers would be required to disclose a copy of his or her surety bond, which current state law mandates they possess.

California law now prohibits professional drivers from attending traffic school to remove traffic violations occurring in their personal vehicles from their records. AB1888 would authorize attendance at traffic schools to help keep their driver status in good standing.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a bill 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. It takes effect July 1, 2013.

Signed into law this spring is a rule that will soon repeal the state’s long running motor carrier property tax, or ad valorem. Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the state will cease collection of the tax in exchange for an additional registration fee applied to intrastate and interstate operations. Out-of-state truckers will pay the tax through the IRP.

Until the change is implemented, the ad valorem tax will continue to be applied for the 2012 and 2013 tax years.

One of a handful of states still in session, Michigan has multiple bills of interest. HB5454 would prohibit law enforcement from issuing tickets generated from automated devices, such as ticket cameras. An exception would be made for the State Police to enforce truck rules.

SB968 would give courts discretion in imposing penalties on trucks that are not overweight overall, but may have one or more axles carrying more weight than allowed. The change would be applied only to loads that are overweight on as many as three axles.

HB5762 would prohibit more than one citation to a truck driver for the same violation within one 24-hour period, by any agency.

SB1231 would mandate that truckers and others who are pulled over by police at night turn on their interior lights. Violators would face $100 fines, in addition to any other violation.

HB5758 would redirect each township’s share of state road funding from the county level to the townships as long as they formed a local road authority.

A new rule expands the 85,500-pound gross weight limitation on U.S. 36 east from U.S. 65 to U.S. 63. The exception also applies to U.S. 63, from the Iowa state line to U.S. 36, and from U.S. 36 to state Route 17. Milk haulers also benefit from the rule change. Hauls weighing up to 85,500 pounds on the way to processing facilities are authorized to use highways other than interstates.

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to require the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey to hold public hearings at least 30 days before toll or fare increases. S1761 includes a requirement on agency commissioners’ attendance at hearings and the number of hearings that could be held on a single day, as well as the time of day the hearings can be held.

Christie signed into law a bill to prohibit first responders from distributing photos of accident victims without getting prior written consent from a victim, or the next-of-kin. Offenders could face jail time and a civil lawsuit.

Halfway through the statehouse is a bill that is intended to deter drivers from hanging out in the left lane. S530 would boost fines for violators to a range of $100 and $300 – up from $50 to $200. If approved, $50 from each fine would be allotted to pay for signage to alert travelers to the keep-right law.

Gov. Beverly Perdue signed into law a bill to rework the state’s “move over” law. Currently, travelers are required to make way for vehicles, typically emergency personnel, during roadside stops. Previously H345, the new law lengthens the list of protected personnel to include all highway maintenance vehicles and utility vehicles.

One new law allows the state to partner with private groups from around the world to do road work in exchange for charging toll taxes. One road system that is off-limits to private business is the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Instead, lawmakers would need to approve any effort to hand over the turnpike.

Also signed into law is a bill to fine travelers who ignore temporary police barricades and drive through flooded areas during and after storms. Offenders would also 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.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed into law a bill to make sure hit-and-run offenders who are caught pay with their driver’s licenses. Offenders would face a mandatory suspension of up to two years. Previously, license suspension was discretionary. LL