State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Elected officials in close to half of all statehouses throughout the country continue to consider bills that affect your trucking business.

We know you don’t have time to keep up with all the legislative action. That’s why your Association keeps a close watch on the action for you. On this and the following pages, you will find a roundup of some significant happenings from around the country.

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

A bill on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk covers public-private partnerships. SB197 would require public and legislative “check-ins,” including town hall meetings. Local governments would also be involved in the process. In addition, P3 deals would be limited to 35 years.

A new law tweaks the criteria in granting certification of household goods carriers. Currently, owners of existing household goods companies are given a say in the process. SB34 removes the provision that gives potential competitors a say in whether a business is approved.

One bill on the governor’s desk could increase the posted speed limit on interstates, highways with a divided median and other roadways. Allowable speeds could be increased on the types of highway by 5 mph to 75, 70 and 65 mph, respectively. SB392 would give the Florida DOT the final say on any speed changes.

Two new laws are of interest. HB749 establishes cargo theft as a specific offense and imposes escalating fines up to $1 million and punishment of up to 30 years behind bars based on the value of goods or controlled substances stolen. Another provision covers fifth wheels, and any antitheft locking device attached to the fifth wheel. Any attempt to alter, move or sell a fifth wheel could result in 10-year prison terms and/or $100,000 fines.

HB774 allows the speed limit in urban areas to be raised to 70 mph – up from 55 mph and 65 mph. Traffic studies must be performed by the Georgia DOT before travelers on urban interstates could be authorized to drive faster.

Gov. Steve Beshear wielded his veto stamp for a bill that barred charging tolls to cross the Brent Spence Bridge. Beshear said in his veto message for HB407 that it was a bad idea to eliminate any funding options for the project to replace the bridge that carries Interstates 71 and 75 into Cincinnati.

The Senate approved a bill that would permit police 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 wouldn’t require the vehicle owner’s consent.

The House advanced multiple bills to raise new revenue for roads. HB5477 would repeal the state’s per-gallon tax rate on gas and diesel in favor of a wholesale tax, which would allow tax collections to increase with inflation. Truckers and other diesel buyers would start paying 19 cents per gallon – up from 15 cents – on Oct. 1.

HB5452 would double single-trip permit fees for oversize and overweight loads from $50 to $100. Multiple-trip permit fees would be increased from $100 to $500.

HB5453 would double fines for overweight trucks.

HB5459 would route a portion of the existing 6-percent sales tax collected at the pump to roads.

Voters will decide this November on a $530 million a year three-fourths-cent general sales tax. If approved, a protection would be included to prevent revenue from the tax being diverted away from transportation. State lawmakers would also be prohibited from increasing the state’s fuel tax rate and prohibited from charging highway users to drive on existing roadways without voter approval.

At press time, a bill awaiting a full Senate vote would scrap the state’s truck lane ban on “urbanized” roadways with at least three lanes of traffic in each direction. HB1557 would allow large trucks to merge left for passing only.

A Senate bill would prohibit the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from charging a fee on cargo facility users, ocean and rail carriers and marine terminal operators. However, S6156 would authorize a fee to be imposed as long as both parties have a written mutual agreement.

A House bill would authorize the state to enter into an agreement with Kentucky and a private group to construct, operate and finance Ohio’s segment of the Brent Spence Bridge. HB533 could also open the door to other bridge deals throughout the state.

The House already approved a bill, HB402, to require the Ohio Department of Taxation to notify businesses in the state when they overpay their taxes and provide automatic refunds in the form of credits toward future taxes.

A new law allows cities and towns to borrow from the municipal road and bridge revolving fund without voter approval. Localities could only borrow up to 5 percent of their budget.

The House approved a bill that would ease rules on getting tank endorsements. H7112 would remove a requirement in state law that an applicant seeking a CDL with a tank endorsement to have regularly driven for at least one year.

A new law limits how long data from license plate readers can be kept. SB1664 permits local police departments and the Department of Public Safety to keep data for 90 days. The time limit doesn’t apply to records related to crimes.

Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill into law allowing private companies, such as repossession companies, to snap photos of license plates along roadways or in parking lots and store them for as long as they like. Previously SB222, the new law prohibits state agencies from buying data from any businesses that keep photos for longer than 30 days. In addition, data kept by law enforcement must be purged after nine months.

One new law mandates that law enforcement obtain search warrants before capturing cellphone data of innocent drivers. HB17 also limits electronic eavesdropping. Telephone companies will be prohibited from providing phone records or metadata to the National Security Agency or other federal agencies without a search warrant or the person’s permission.

A new law gets rid of a state requirement for passing drivers to alert vehicles ahead. AB714 specifies that passing vehicles no longer must give an audible signal, such as honking the horn, to warn the vehicle ahead that they are being overtaken. LL