By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
Since the first of the year lawmakers throughout the country have been working at what could be considered breakneck speed to advance their agendas. A portion of those efforts are included on the following pages.
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.
One bill would give police in cities with fewer than 19,000 residents the authority to ticket speeders on interstates. SB71 would also allow speed enforcement for all police departments on roads outside of city limits but within their jurisdictions.
A House bill would prohibit hanging out in the left lane of multilane highways. HB1180 calls for violators to face $100 fines.
Multiple bills are of note to truckers. HB6049 would authorize any state police, local police or traffic enforcement official to enforce the state’s idling limits.
HB6139 would allow police to search a trucker’s paperwork to determine whether the driver is in violation of “No Thru Truck” laws.
SB470 would require height barriers at entrances on the Merritt Parkway to help enforce a large truck ban.
SB698 would use bonds to pay for posting signs and signals to warn truck drivers of low bridges and improvements.
Three more bills would require law enforcement to notify ConnDOT of inoperative lights along highways and other roads.
Gov. Jack Markell signed into law a bill that gives the General Assembly the final say on any deals to transfer, sell or privatize the Port of Wilmington.
A Senate bill would prohibit travelers from driving in the left lane of a multilane highway when they are about to be overtaken by another vehicle, even if they are driving the speed limit. S408 includes failure to stay to the right as one of the offenses that make up “aggressive careless driving.”
HB170 would authorize IDOT to post signs to prohibit large trucks from using engine brakes near residential areas or communities. Currently, the signs can be posted only near weigh stations near residential areas or communities.
Multiple bills at the statehouse would raise more money for roads by stopping diversions to the Indiana State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
HB1141 would route 50 percent of the nearly $550 million collected each year in sales tax on gas and diesel purchases to counties, cities and towns for local projects. Currently, money from the 7 percent sales tax is routed to the state’s general fund.
A House bill would exempt trucks from citations issued for gross weight limits when traveling on non-interstates in certain instances. Specifically, HB122 would be applied when driving between the loading point and the nearest scale in the direction of the operator’s destination.
HB176 calls for amending the state constitution to ensure taxes, fees and other transportation-related charges are applied solely for transportation.
A new law, SB403, authorizes doctors to warn the state that a patient might be a danger on roads. License suspension periods could last at least six months for motorists and at least 12 months for truckers.
One House bill would revise the amount of traffic fine revenue certain municipalities can keep from traffic violations. HB84 would reduce the amount for the state’s smallest towns from 45 percent to 35 percent.
The House Transportation Committee approved a bill that is intended to improve fairness for truck drivers doing business in the state. HB347 would 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.
On the move in the House is a bill to increase the maximum weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. HB196 would authorize commercial vehicles equipped with APUs to weigh up to an additional 550 pounds.
Another bill would impose a 10-year fuel tax increase to benefit local road work. HB667 would increase the excise tax 5 cents per gallon.
A bill in the Senate Transportation Committee would 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. S1087 would outlaw provisions in affected contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence are “void and unenforceable.”
Two Senate bills cover ice and snow removal from atop various vehicles. S395 would permit police to cite truckers and other drivers for failure to act. Meanwhile, S841 would exempt large trucks from the requirement.
Two House bills are of interest to truck drivers. HB1431 would prohibit truckers from use of Jake Brakes within one mile of a city’s limits.
HB1080 would impose one- to three-point penalties for speeders, depending on the speed over the posted limit. Points would be added to the existing fines for speeding.
HB2276 would increase the state’s fuel tax and motor carrier taxes. A 5-cent-per-gallon tax would be implemented with additional nickel increases every five years.
Bills of note to truckers include HB32 to make it a crime to possess a vehicle with concealed compartments used for smuggling. Specifically for trucks, it clarifies that carriers, or truck owners, would not lose their vehicle if they are unaware of the driver’s illegal activity.
HB38 would permit local and regional police officers who work for “full-service police departments” to use radar to nab speeders. Tickets could only be written for drivers who exceed the posted speed by at least 10 mph.
A House bill would require motorists and truckers to turn on interior lights if pulled over by police at night. H3325 would authorize up to $100 fines for failure to abide by the rule.
Two bills would increase the maximum weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. SB38 would authorize commercial vehicles equipped with auxiliary power units to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds. SB65 would authorize affected trucks to weigh up to an additional 550 pounds.
Multiple bills are of interest. HB213 would make permanent a franchise tax exemption for small businesses, including truck operations, to $1 million. The exemption is slated to sunset at the end of 2013.
HB158 would combine concealed handgun licenses and driver’s licenses, including CDLs. The combined license would display the CHL number, expiration dates, and types of handguns for which a person is licensed.
At presstime, two bills of note are under consideration. HB115 would prohibit tow truck companies, including large trucks, from charging additional fees. Municipalities could also set maximum rates.
SB123 would limit use of a runaway ramp for emergencies only. Blocking access to ramps by “stopping, standing or parking” in the pathway would also be prohibited.
A House bill would require the state’s licensing department to notify certain employers about CDL suspensions, revocations or cancellations. Truck drivers already are required to notify their company. HB1070 would make the state DOL responsible for setting up a voluntary database that employers can register drivers for notification.
On the governor’s desk is a bill to increase the state’s fuel tax rate by 10 cents to 24 cents per gallon to help cover a $135 million annual shortfall to upkeep roads. The state’s 14-cent tax rate has not changed since 1998.
At presstime, another bill on the move would increase the deterrent for truck drivers who ignore road closures, namely Teton Pass. HB179 would increase fines from $100 to $750. LL