State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Included in this issue’s State Watch you will find the annual Legislative Guide, beginning on Page 50. The directory is your reference guide for tracking issues important to you.

On this page, Land Line rounds up some recent actions from statehouses.

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

A bill on the move in the Senate could increase the posted speed limit on various highways for all vehicles. SB392 would increase allowable speeds on interstates, highways with a divided median and other roadways by 5 mph to 75, 70 and 65 mph, respectively. The Florida DOT would have the final say on any speed changes.

Two Senate bills cover transportation funding. SB544 would reroute one-half of 1 percent of the state’s 3 percent general sales tax from the general revenue fund to transportation over four years. All revenue would be deposited into the state’s road fund.

SB587 is intended to discourage communities from using red-light or speed cameras as revenue generators. Cities would be required to route all fines from ticket cameras to local school districts for transportation purposes. Typically, the revenue is put into a city’s general fund.

Multiple bills are of note to truckers. SB338 would equip all State Police cruisers with video cameras, and HB1575 would outfit troopers with cameras to record interaction with the public.

Two bills would raise the speed limit for cars and trucks. HB1184 would authorize faster speeds on a portion of state Route 101 from Manchester to Hampton. Cars and trucks would be authorized to travel at 70 mph – up from 65 mph – along the nearly 30-mile stretch of highway.

HB1185 would permit vehicles to drive 70 mph along a stretch of Interstate 89 from mile marker 5 to mile marker 55.

A Senate bill specifies that CDL applicants can retake the knowledge portion of the test twice per week. State law now limits applicants to three exams per year. SB41 would continue to limit taking the skills test to three times annually. In addition, a CDL applicant who failed the skills test or knowledge test five times would be required to complete a state-recognized commercial driver training program.

An Assembly bill would permit the transportation commissioner to raise the 65 mph speed limit to 75 mph on any interstate highway, including the New York Thruway. A8225 would also permit speeds to be increased from 55 to 65 mph on divided highways with at least four lanes.

A senate joint resolution – SJR6 – would ask voters in May’s primary election to renew and expand a program used to finance road, bridge and sewer projects. The program funded from bonds backed by the state’s general revenues would pump about $1.87 billion during the next decade into local projects.

Another piece of legislation covers concerns about predatory towing. HB382 would prohibit tow companies from charging fees not explicitly authorized in Ohio law; provide a 24-hour grace period for vehicle storage fees; limit how far a vehicle can be towed; require tow operators to snap at least one photo of the vehicle showing it is parked illegally; and give the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio rule-making authority for enforcement.

A new law authorizes speeds to be increased from 65 mph to 70 mph on the state’s interstate highways and the Turnpike. Before new speed limit signs are posted, PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission will conduct their own traffic and engineering studies to determine the safety of speed changes.

Multiple bills of note are under review at the statehouse. S891 would more than double the current 16-cent-per-gallon fuel tax rate. Specifically, it would increase the tax rate by 20 cents over 10 years. The tax would be increased by 2 cents each year through 2023. The new revenue could only be applied to the state’s highway fund.

H4356 would let voters decide whether their county should raise the local fuel tax by as much as 2 cents per gallon to improve roads and bridges.

H4391 would prohibit drivers of all vehicles from driving in the left lane 5 mph below the posted speed limit. Left-lane use would only be permitted for passing other vehicles. Violators would have two points added to their drivers’ license. Cellphone use while traveling in the far-left lane would also be forbidden.

One bill would do away with the practice of issuing a temporary CDL to prospective truckers enrolled in a CDL driver training school. Starting July 1, 2015, prospective truckers must hold a commercial driver instruction permit for at least 14 days before taking the skills tests. SB30 would also apply the requirement to someone who is upgrading a CDL class or endorsement requiring a skills test.

A House bill would revise the state’s rule on driving in the left lane. Virginia law already prohibits very slow traffic in the left lane. HB51 would prohibit driving below the posted speed in the left lane of any of the state’s interstates.

Another bill would add to the state’s list of communities that regulate or prohibit truck parking. HB9 would give the town of Blackstone authority to enact an ordinance to regulate or prohibit truck parking in residential areas.

One more bill is intended to improve safety, and cut into profits, by standardizing yellow times at intersections around the state posted with red-light cameras. HB255 would require that all red-light cameras have yellow times of at least three seconds.

Two bills from Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, are intended to help make sure money is used for transportation purposes. HB2094 would require that sales and use tax revenue resulting from state DOT expenditures to be allocated to the motor vehicle account. The revenue now is deposited into the state’s general fund.

HB2092 would prohibit using money that is designated for transportation for works of art.

House Speaker Tom Lubnau is the sponsor of a bill that would authorize 80 mph speeds for truckers and other drivers on certain highway segments – up from 75 mph. HB12 would require the Wyoming DOT to study which sections of interstate highway could handle the higher speed limit. LL