By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
We know you don’t have time to keep up with all of the bills being considered in your home state that affect your trucking business. That’s why your Association keeps a close watch on legislative action in statehouses near you.
On this page you will find a roundup of some significant actions from around the country.
For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit landlinemag.com and click on “Legislative Watch” under the “Important Info” tab.
Bills of note to truckers include efforts that cover tolls.
HB6051 would authorize a study on adding tolls and the possibility of reducing the state’s fuel tax rates. The commissioner of transportation would be required to analyze the DOT’s ability to limit toll revenue for transportation purposes only.
HB6052 would authorize tolls on the extension of state Route 11 from Salem to Interstate 95.
HB6039 would specify that any money routed to the Special Transportation Fund would be used solely for related purposes.
HJ63 would amend the state’s Constitution to limit the use of revenue in the Special Transportation Fund.
One measure halfway through the statehouse seeks a 10-year, one-cent general sales tax for transportation. Senate Joint Resolution 16 would split 10 percent of the new revenue between cities and counties for local projects.
A protection would also be included to prevent revenue from the tax from being diverted away from transportation. In addition, fuel tax increases would be prohibited without voter approval and highway users couldn’t be charged to drive on existing roadways.
If approved by lawmakers, the proposal would get a public vote in 2014.
On the governor’s desk is a bill intended to deter truck thieves with stiffer penalties. S2092 specifies that anyone who leads or organizes a cargo theft network would face $250,000 in fines, or five times the retail value of the property seized at the time of arrest. The bill also specifies criminal charges for operating facilities used for storage or resale of property stolen from motor carriers.
An effort underway at the statehouse is intended to rein in “civil asset forfeiture.” The practice allows police to take cash or property from people pulled over along roadsides without charging them with a crime. HB1078/SB891 would allow people whose money or property has been confiscated by police to get an immediate hearing before a judge.
A new law increases the incentive to stop idling large trucks. SB65 offers weight allowances for idling-reduction equipment up to 550 pounds.
Multiple bills are intended to reduce congestion and limit the growth of toll roads. HB3682 would convert state Highway 130 from a toll road into Interstate 35 East. The bill would allot $1.5 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund to buy the roadway. The purchase would be contingent on getting a $1.5 billion federal match.
SB1029 would prohibit converting existing roadways into pay-to-play routes.
SB1253 would forbid the state to lower posted speeds on alternative, or free, routes near toll roads without engineering to support the change.
State lawmakers agreed on a five-year, $6 billion transportation funding plan. HB2313 includes converting Virginia’s 17.5-cent-per-gallon excise tax on gas into a 3.5 percent wholesale tax. Diesel purchases would include a 6 percent levy.
A separate regional component would allow some localities to collect additional taxes for local projects. Specifically, areas like Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia could impose a 0.7 percent sales tax increase.
One more provision prevents tolls from being added to Interstate 95.
Effective July 1, the state’s fuel tax rate will increase by 10 cents to 24 cents per gallon. According to WYDOT, the tax increase will generate about $72 million in new revenue the first year. About $47.4 million will be earmarked for state highways.
Counties and cities will receive $16.4 million and $6.7 million, respectively. State parks will claim another $1.2 million. LL