OOIDA State Watch

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor


Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law a bill, S401, to authorize the city of Bessemer to post cameras to monitor drivers running red lights and stop signs as well as speeding. Violators found running red lights or failing to stop at stop signs could receive citations up to $110. Speeding fines could reach $160.


Two new laws are of note. S1261 allows stinger-steered vehicle transporters up to 80 feet – up from 75 feet. S1261 also permits the front overhang to be up to 4 feet while the rear overhang can be up to 6 feet – up from a combined 7 feet.

H472 requires that the state DOT must allow commercial vehicle owners to keep their license plate number upon renewal, or a different number upon request.

Both changes take effect July 1.


Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law a bill that repeals a program in place since 1989 that collects 1 cent per gallon on fuel purchases to fund the repair of underground fuel storage tanks. Effective Dec. 31, HF2464 sets the diesel tax rate at 31.5 cents and the gas rate at 30 cents.


The House has approved a bill to increase speeds for motorists on rural interstates to 75 mph, while trucks would be restricted to 65 mph. HB4423 would also authorize urban interstates to be posted at 70 mph for motorists and 60 mph for trucks. State trunk lines could have speeds increased from 55 mph to 60 mph for all users. Changes in posted speeds could be made only following traffic studies done by the Michigan DOT and Michigan State Police.


Gov. Maggie Hassan signed into law a bill that allows law enforcement agencies to use license plate scanners to collect plate numbers and run them through a database of crimes and individuals. Acceptable uses of the technology would include commercial trucking violations, tracking stolen vehicles and tracking people suspected of criminal or terrorist acts. HB1154 requires data from plates that are not included on any lists to be purged within three minutes.


Two bills are intended to give South Jersey residents more of a say in happenings at the Turnpike Authority. S1674 would require representation on the Authority’s board by all regions of the state. At least one of the seven appointed members would be from Ocean, Atlantic or Cape May counties.

S1675 would require the Turnpike Authority to hold regular meetings around the state.

Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill aimed at giving state lawmakers more authority over the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Instead, he called on state lawmakers to approve identical rules adopted in New York. Since the authority is a bi-state agency, identical legislation must be approved in both statehouses before it can take effect. New York’s law sets up whistleblower protections and calls for a rotating chairmanship between the states. The one-year-old law also requires open meetings.


A Senate bill would set a speed limit of 20 mph below the posted speed limit at and near the scene of roadside emergencies. S6666 defines affected areas as 500 feet leading up to and immediately preceding the accident scene. Violators would face loss of driving privileges for 60 days.


One Senate bill would delay plans to rid the state of red-light cameras. Without legislative action to save them, the devices are set to be discontinued next year. SB1267 would extend the sunset provision to 2027.

Two more Senate bills would permit local police officers to use radar to nab speeders. SB559 specifies that use of speed radar by local law enforcement would be limited to “trained officers” in Philadelphia, Allegheny, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Twelve more counties in the third class would also be permitted to use the technology. SB535 would permit all communities to use radar.


Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law a funding deal that borrows $2.2 billion over the next 10 years to get road and bridge work done. S1258 relies on $200 million annually from the state’s sales tax on vehicles, as well as other DMV fees, to bond about $2.2 billion through the Transportation Infrastructure Bank. Also included in the road plan is reform in state DOT governance.


A new law in effect July 1 requires drivers on interstates and highways with at least three lanes to stay to the right except when overtaking or passing another vehicle. Violators would face up to $50 fines. No points would be added to drivers’ licenses. HB1416 does not require the state DOT to post signage to alert drivers of the rule. Instead, they can use existing permanent electronic overhead displays on interstates to notify travelers.


Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a bill that provides a sales and use tax exemption for federal excise tax collected on the sale of heavy trucks or trailers. AB629 has a retroactive effective date of Sept. 1, 2014. The date corresponds with a state Department of Revenue rule change that removed the federal excise tax on large trucks from the list of taxes excluded from sales price. LL