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State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

The majority of state legislatures have wrapped up their work for this calendar year. A special thanks to those of you who followed what took place in your state and who tipped us off on initiatives you cared about.

Here's our roundup of what governors signed into law in recent weeks and the latest activity on other notable efforts.

For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit landlinemag.com and click on "Legislative Watch" under the "Important Info" tab.

CALIFORNIA
Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills into law that are of interest to truckers.

AB8 extends for eight to nine years the 2016 sunset date on all registration and license fees at current rates. Multiple vehicle fees were added in 2007 to help fund multiple clean air and clean vehicle incentive programs. One of the programs would raise revenue to develop alternative fuel and clean-air technology in the state.

AB767 allows counties throughout the state to double a local fee for vehicle-theft prevention. Personal vehicle fees would increase from $1 to $2, and commercial vehicle fees would increase from $2 to $4. Counties around the state with populations under 250,000 could also use the revenue to prosecute drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter cases.

AB210 authorizes 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.

However, the governor vetoed two bills. AB902 sought to double the fine for violating the state’s “move over” rule. The current fine for failure to make way for emergency personnel is $50. After tacking on court fees and other costs, the total penalty is $279.

AB405 called for freeing up carpool lanes in the Los Angeles area during non-peak hours and weekends. A pilot program would have been set up on the 134 Freeway from Studio City to Pasadena and on the 210 Freeway from Pasadena to Glendora.

ILLINOIS
A new law adds cigarette butts to the list of items that a person can be charged with littering. The violation carries a maximum fine of $1,500 and up to 180 days behind bars. To make matters worse, a judge is authorized to require violators to pick up litter along roadways for 30 days. It takes effect Jan. 1.

MAINE
Voters will soon decide whether to authorize nearly $150 million in bonds for infrastructure projects, including road work. Gov. Paul LePage signed a package of bond bills, including LD1095, which will be included on the state’s November ballot. The package includes $100 million for highways, bridges and ports.

MICHIGAN
A Senate bill would impose a statewide rule on idling. Affected vehicles would be limited to idling for no more than five minutes per hour. SB23 includes a provision that covers idling while trucks wait to load or unload.

Examples of circumstances that would warrant additional idling are to operate a heater or air conditioner “to prevent a safety or health emergency.” Affected vehicles would also be exempt from the time limit rule when temperatures drop below 40 degrees or are higher than 80 degrees.

MISSOURI
A new law already in effect increases penalties for dangerous driving in an “emergency zone.” SB282 authorizes $35 fines, in addition to any other fine, for traffic violations committed near emergency scenes. The law authorizes $250 fines tacked on for anyone caught speeding or passing in the affected area.

Driving 15 mph in excess of the posted limit, passing another vehicle, and driving in any lane off- limits to travelers could result in fines up to $1,000. Higher fines are levied if injury or death results.

State lawmakers voted to override the veto of a bill to restrict lawsuits by uninsured motorists. HB339 takes away the ability for drivers without insurance to collect noneconomic damages from insured drivers. An exception applies if insured drivers involved in wrecks were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

NEW JERSEY
Gov. Chris Christie issued a conditional veto on a bill that would direct the Turnpike Authority to study and report on additional services that could be offered to make money along highways. Services could include business, commercial or retail at rest areas along the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. The conditional veto gives lawmakers recommendations for changes that need to be made to A1279 to satisfy the governor.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, introduced a bill – A4410 – that would protect senders of text messages from any potential legal issues if the recipient is involved in a wreck.

An Assembly bill – A3831 – would prohibit the planning, designing or construction of any additional “jughandles” on roads or highways in the state. Existing jughandles would not be affected.

PENNSYLVANIA
One bill is intended to entice more drivers to make sure they stay to the right through the threat of increased fines. HB1539 would increase fines for failure to keep right on multi-lane highways from $25 to $100.

Another bill could end the state’s call box program along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. HB1042 would not mandate that the program end, but it would allow the Turnpike Commission to move forward with call box removal at their discretion.

WISCONSIN
The Assembly approved a bill that would raise the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on rural four-lane highways. Specifically, AB389 would increase the speed limit on rural interstates, freeways and expressways. WisDOT would make the final decision on sections of roadway where speed increases would be suitable. The agency would also decide whether to keep truck speeds at 65 mph.

Another bill 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. LL