Illinois bills cover truck fees, length limits, firearms

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, March 20, 2017

Multiple bills introduced in the Illinois statehouse cover issues of interest to truckers.

One issue of interest would allow truckers with Illinois base plates to keep more money in their pockets.

House lawmakers voted 109-3 to advance a bill that would repeal collection of the commercial distribution fee for trucks in the state. The amount is a 14.35 percent surcharge of the annual registration fees.

The original fee was 36 percent. The fee was later reduced to 21.5 before it was trimmed to its current rate in 2006.

For truck registrations of 80,000 pounds, truckers are required to chip in another $400 to cover the CDF. On top of the nearly $2,800 they already pay for base plates, truckers pay about $3,200 a year to tag their trucks in the state.

Truckers say the fee amounts to a tax on a tax.

The House-approved bill would take effect July 1, 2018. Sponsored by Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, HB386 awaits further consideration in the Senate.

Another bill from Mayfield, HB371, calls for the same rule change but with an effective date of July 1, 2017. The bill is scheduled for consideration Tuesday, March 21, in the House Transportation: Regulation, Roads and Bridges Committee.

A separate issue addressed in multiple bills would clarify a portion of the state’s concealed carry law.

The state passed a concealed carry law in 2013. Since then, the state’s 30 rest areas controlled by the Illinois Department of Transportation have prohibited concealed carry.

HB2934, SB1302 and SB1711 each make clear that it is not against the law to carry a concealed firearm on the premises of a DOT rest area.

Advocates say the change to state law is needed because they do not want people with concealed carry permits to avoid the state.

The bills are in their chamber’s respective Judiciary committees. Sponsored by Rep. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, HB2934 is scheduled for committee consideration on Tuesday.

Another truck issue under consideration covers the length limits on some state roadways.

Illinois law now authorizes trucks up to 65 feet to access state highways. The limit is capped at 55 feet on county and township roads.

The House and Senate transportation committees have each approved bills to allow 65-foot truck lengths on all roadways in the state.

Advocates say the legislation would accommodate the size of modern large trucks. They add that the shorter limit on local roads makes it nearly impossible to use longer trailers to haul grain, livestock or other agricultural goods from a farm to market without violating state law.

The bills, HB683 and SB51, await consideration on their respective chamber floors.

Another bill approved by the Senate Transportation Committee covers weight restrictions for special circumstances. SB1576 would allow a special permit to be issued by IDOT during a declared harvest emergency.

The permit would waive a vehicle’s registered weight limitation for a truck hauling agricultural commodities and set a divisible load weight limit not to exceed 10 percent above a vehicle’s registered gross weight or axle weight.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor. If approved there, it would advance to the House.

One more bill would authorize local authorities to limit the operation of trucks or other commercial vehicles on highways in areas with “poor air quality.”

Areas with poor air quality would be defined as follows:

“Poor air quality” means when pollutants, including emissions from natural and unnatural sources, in the air reach a high enough concentration to endanger human health or the environment.

The bill, HB3154, is included on the schedule for consideration Tuesday, March 21, in the House Transportation: Regulation, Roads and Bridges Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois, click here.

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