By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
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.
Here you will find a midsummer 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.
Nearing passage is a bill to authorize Alameda and Contra Costa counties to put transportation measures on their ballots to boost funding for local infrastructure. The counties cannot put transportation sales tax measures on the ballot without first getting an exemption from state lawmakers. AB210 would grant both counties the authority to ask voters to approve an increase by Dec. 31, 2020.
A new law covers the employment status of independent contractors, including owner-operators. State law regards truck drivers who work for one motor carrier as employees. HB6151 exempts independent contractors from employee status.
Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a lengthy transportation bill that includes a provision to give law enforcement more authority to ticket drivers who block traffic in the left lane by traveling slower than 10 mph below the posted speed. Also included in HB7125 are provisions to bring some of the state’s truck rules in line with federal truck rules. The provisions comply with federal rules on learning permits for CDLs and outlaw texting and the use of hand-held cellphones by truckers.
Gov. Pat Quinn could soon decide on a bill that would raise the speed limit from 65 mph on rural interstate highways and the Illinois Tollway. Cook and the “collar” counties surrounding Chicago, and Madison and St. Clair counties outside of St. Louis could opt out of the rule change.
Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law allowing the state DOT, or a local authority, to grant permits for transporting overweight divisible loads. Specifically, HB1481 covers metal commodities and agricultural hauls. The annual fee for an overweight load permit could not exceed $470. Revenue from permit fees will be routed to the state’s highway fund.
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that allows sponsorship on state-owned assets, including the state’s nine rest areas. Previously HB386, the new law gives the Louisiana DOTD the authority to charge fees for sponsorship signs on state-owned property.
A new law that took effect without the governor’s signature allows speeds to be boosted statewide from 65 mph to 75 mph. Previously LD654, the new law allows the transportation commissioner to raise speeds on all interstates.
A House bill would allow communities to post red-light cameras at intersections. HB4763 covers standardizing yellow-light timing and fine amounts.
A bill on the governor’s desk would comply with federal rules on learning permits for CDLs and outlaw texting and the use of hand-held cellphones by truckers while driving. SB43 includes a provision to increase the weight limit authorized for trucks equipped with APUs from 400 pounds to 550 pounds.
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law 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. The new rule takes effect Oct. 1, 2013.
Nearing passage at the statehouse is a bill that would authorize the state to pursue selling sponsorships or naming rights to the 16-state-operated rest areas. HB635 would also set up a committee to study closed facilities.
One year after adopting the 400-pound rule for trucks loaded with APUs, a bill on the governor’s desk would accommodate additional equipment. HB196 would authorize a 550-pound exemption.
A bad bill on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk would classify drayage truck operators and parcel drivers as company employees. A1578 would deem port truckers, including owner-operators going onto a port, to be employees.
The Assembly voted unanimously to advance A3461 to the Senate. The bill would give authority to reach sponsorship deals to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Department of Transportation and South Jersey Transportation Authority.
Another bill on the move would require technology to be installed on the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway to inform users of the actual amounts being charged to their E-ZPass accounts. S1434 specifies that the installation would be done during their next scheduled equipment upgrades.
A bill in the Senate Transportation Committee would require drivers involved in minor wrecks to move their vehicles from the roadway, “if safe and possible.” S394 clarifies that moving vehicles to a nearby location does not imply fault or lack of injuries.
Another bill in the committee would allow police to order vehicles removed from streets and highways without fear of liability if damaged. S393 would not offer liability protection if it is determined that removal was carried out in a “reckless or grossly negligent manner.”
The House Transportation Committee could soon review an effort to ban the use of ticket cameras. HB69 would apply to red-light and speed cameras.
The Senate voted 45-5 to advance to the House a long-term transportation funding package. Changes included in SB1 could result in a 28-cent increase in the state’s fuel tax rate via ending a cap on a tax on wholesale fuel prices.
Other changes include phasing out Act 44. The six-year-old law requires the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to route $450 million annually to the state for roads and bridges.
Another part of the plan would impose surcharges on traffic violations and tie the fees for licensing, registration and permitting to inflation. LL