State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

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.

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. Here's our roundup of noteworthy issues acted on by governors in recent weeks and the latest activity on other notable efforts.

Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, has prefiled a bill for consideration during the 2014 regular session. It would give police in cities with fewer than 19,000 residents the authority to ticket speeders on interstates. SB23 would also allow speed enforcement for all police departments on roads outside of city limits but within their jurisdictions.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that sought to create an office of fuel price investigation and manipulation prevention at the California Energy Commission. SB448 authorized the new office to investigate potential incidents of illegal activity and recommend how to reduce price volatility in the state. Instead, he asked the commission to work with the Attorney General’s office to evaluate market trends and ways to respond to price volatility.

Two bills halfway through the statehouse are of note. SB277 would require fewer commercial vehicles to display the company’s information or registered logo.

Currently, commercial vehicles weighing more than 5,000 pounds must include the information or logo. Violators face $58 fines, including court costs.

SB277 would change the threshold to all commercial vehicles in excess of 26,000 pounds. The change wouldn’t apply to towing or platform bed wreckers or road service vehicles.

HB4633 would speed up license plate replacement in the state. Specifically, drivers would be required to buy a new plate every 10 years. The change would take effect in 2015.

Another bill would require use of headlights for all vehicles in bad weather. HB4645 would mandate travelers to flip on their headlights when the windshield wipers are in use.

A House bill would mandate that large vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds stay in the two right-hand lanes on stretches of highway with three or more lanes in the same direction. HB278 would authorize fines up to $100 for violators.

Another bill would simplify the process to renew driver’s licenses. SB204 would allow residents to renew their driver’s licenses online every other renewal period.

Ohio law requires drivers to renew their license every five years in person at a local Bureau of Motor Vehicles office.

The bill wouldn’t apply to drivers under 21.

A bill in the House Transportation Committee would allow local police to use radar to nab speeders, remove “call boxes” along the turnpike, and levy hefty littering fines.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that prohibits municipal police from enforcing speed limits with radar. Only state troopers are allowed to use radar.

HB1272 would make the technology available for any police officer.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati is looking for co-sponsors to a bill that would raise the speed limit on interstate highways and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from 65 mph to 70 mph. Engineering and traffic studies would be required prior to changes in speed on any stretch of road.

One more bill – HB45 – would create a weight scale to determine fine amounts for littering on the state’s roadways. Littering up to 5 pounds of waste along roadways could result in $100 fines. The next threshold – up to 100 pounds – could result in fines of $500. More excessive violations would result in fines of up to $1,000.

The Assembly voted to advance a bill to the Senate that would raise the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on rural interstates. Specifically, AB389 would authorize WisDOT to make the final decision on sections of roadway where speed increases would be suitable. A change made on the Assembly floor would authorize WisDOT to consider whether the maximum speed for large trucks should remain at 65 mph.

Another bill halfway through the statehouse would make changes to Wisconsin law concerning commercial driver’s licenses to comply with FMCSRs. AB283 would beef up the punishment for first-time offenders of the out-of-service rules. Getting behind the wheel of a truck while in OOS status would result in the driver’s license being suspended for six months – up from 90 days.

Communities throughout the state could soon get to decide whether they want roundabouts. State law now leaves the decision about whether to construct roundabouts to state transportation officials. AB275 mandates that before construction of any roundabout, the local government – city, town or village – would need to approve the project. LL