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. Here’s our end-of-summer review of bills you found of interest. It’s a roundup of the items that governors signed into law in recent weeks and others awaiting action.

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

The Senate voted to send a bill to the Assembly that would require cellphone manufacturers to install and activate a shut-off function in all smartphones sold in the state by next summer. SB962 would require a kill switch to be the default setting.

A separate bill halfway through the statehouse would permit counties to increase vehicle registration fees to set up fingerprint ID programs. AB2393 would permit counties already charging vehicle registration fees for fingerprint identification programs to increase the amount. Specifically, affected counties could charge $2 on car registration fees – up from $1. Trucks would pay $4 – up from $2. Counties not already applying a charge on vehicle registrations could implement the fees.

A new law requires that data from automated license plate readers be destroyed after three years. HB1152 makes an exception for data related to pending criminal investigations.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a pair of bills of note. HB7175 authorizes tolls to be collected on new highways, express lanes and managed lanes. A separate provision forbids the state from entering into any new lease-purchase agreements with any expressway authority or regional transportation authority. Another provision authorizes APU exemptions on large trucks up to 550 pounds.

HB7005 requires any driver on multi-lane roadways to move to the right if they are being overtaken by another vehicle, regardless of speed. Another provision requires a statewide policy to be set on the length of time records can be kept from automated license plate readers.

At press time, two bills on the governor’s desk are of interest. HB3794 would authorize selling $1.1 billion in bonds for road and bridge work throughout the state.

SB2808 would limit the circumstances in which law enforcement can use information collected from cellphones.

One new law no longer requires most Kentucky truckers and other drivers to carry proof of insurance. Instead, HB218 allows police to check whether a driver has vehicle insurance by checking the Automated Vehicle Information System through a computer in the officer’s patrol car.

Starting Aug. 1, a new law permits law enforcement to remove any vehicle, cargo or other property damaged or spilled along roadways included in the National Highway System, which could cause a hazard or obstruct traffic. SB661 doesn’t require the vehicle owner’s consent.

Also effective Aug. 1 is a rule change adding cigarette butts to the list of items that a person can be charged with littering. The violation would carry a fine of $300 and eight hours of litter cleanup duty. Subsequent violations could result in fine amounts up to $1,500, 80 hours of cleanup and suspension of driving privileges for one year.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a bill mandating that cellphone companies selling smartphones and connected tablets in Minnesota include “kill switches” for their devices beginning July 1, 2015.

A bill on the governor’s desk would boost penalties for driving at least 100 mph. SB246 would authorize fines between $750 and $1,000 for the worst speeders with loss of driving privileges up to one year and jail time.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo could soon sign a bill to require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to follow the same guidelines for other public authorities in New York state. S6718 specifies that records of the port authority and meetings of the board and its committees must be open to the public.

One bill moving through the House would fine travelers who ignore “road closed” signage and drive through flooded areas during and after storms. The Senate-approved bill, SB106, would include fines up to $2,000 to cover the tab for any rescue or recovery that is necessary.

Gov. Mary Fallon signed a bill into law to ensure that dash-cam video recorded by state troopers is included in the state’s open records law. SB1513 includes certain exceptions. The rule change takes effect Nov. 1.

A three-bill package halfway through the statehouse would give the state more oversight of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. HB619 would allow for gubernatorial veto of actions. HB620 would require an annual financial and management audit by the state’s auditor general. HB621 would give the governor 10 days to invoke veto power over any actions by an individual commissioner.

Two more bills cover actions at the Delaware River Port Authority. SB1358/HB2258 would prohibit the bi-state agency from engaging in economic development activity. Other changes include forcing the agency to comply with ethics and public records laws. In addition, a two-thirds majority of commissioners would need to sign off on any toll increase.

SB1373 would give the Pennsylvania governor veto power over actions of the agency’s board.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed an $8.7 billion budget bill that eliminates tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. In the place of tolls is a 1-cent fuel tax increase that will be imposed starting July 1, 2015. In addition, the tax will be adjusted every two years based on the rate of inflation.

H7133 includes higher vehicle inspection fees that kicked in July 1. All vehicle-related fees now deposited into the state’s general fund will also be rerouted to a new transportation fund over the next five years.

A separate new law is intended to help truckers and other drivers avoid the delay of shuffling through papers in their vehicle to locate his or her insurance card. Previously H7098, the new law permits people to get behind the wheel of a vehicle without a paper insurance card as long as they have a form of digital proof of insurance.

Another new law expands the list of protected vehicles included in the state’s Move Over law. H7597 adds highway maintenance equipment while at work to the list that already includes emergency personnel, tow trucks and roadside assistance vehicles.

One new law calls for a meeting on whether the state should abandon time changes. HB197 specifies that meeting participants include “parents, senior citizens, and representatives from the agricultural, public education, recreation, and business communities.”

A new law creates a tolling and borrowing commission in Hampton Roads. SB513 authorizes the commission to be run by the top elected officials of each of the 14 counties and cities in the area. A handful of state lawmakers and transportation officials will also serve on the commission. LL

Editor’s note: 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.