Rules for commercial drivers are among the topics moving through the Missouri statehouse.
The House Transportation Committee has approved a bill to require school bus drivers 70 years of age or older to complete the CDL skills tests and the driving test on an annual basis.
Sponsored by Rep. Craig Redmon, R-Canton, HB560 would also repeal the pre-trip inspection testing requirement for affected school bus drivers.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has communicated to the bill sponsor support for eliminating the state’s pre-trip inspection requirement.
Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, said while the Association believes the annual testing requirements based on age are entirely arbitrary, eliminating the pre-trip inspection test would reduce an unnecessary burden without compromising the safety of school bus drivers, their passengers, and the motoring public.
The bill has moved to the House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee before heading to the House floor.
A separate bill from Redmon halfway through the statehouse would modify medical endorsement requirements for school bus drivers.
Missouri law now requires school bus drivers to provide an annual statement from a medical examiner certifying they can safely operate a bus.
HB631 would extend the time period to two years if a Missouri Department of Transportation-approved medical examiner agrees to issue a two-year certification, instead of a one-year certification.
Matousek points out the bill would align the state’s CDL medical standards with federal standards.
“Similar to HB560, this is something that would eliminate an unnecessary burden without jeopardizing public safety,” Matousek said.
HB631 is in the Senate Education Committee.
Another House-approved bill from Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill, includes provisions described as bringing the state into compliance with federal rules on vehicle haulers.
OOIDA is concerned about language in the bill, HB542, covering the overhang allowance for automobile transporters. Specifically, the bill would alter the state’s definitions of an automobile transporter and a boat transporter.
“FHWA’s interpretation prohibits what we believe to be conventional automobile transporters from using the overhang allowance, effectively resulting in 13 percent to 39 percent in lost productivity and revenue,” Matousek said. He adds that FHWA offers no safety-related justification for their position simply because there are no safety-related issues.
The Association is in discussions with Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation to settle the matter on the federal level.
“We think redefining an automobile transporter in Missouri law is premature at this point and we think the Missouri legislature should hold off on doing so pending the outcome of these discussions.”
Korman’s bill awaits assignment to committee in the Senate.
Another bill headed to the House floor would enact a regulatory structure for weigh station and inspection site bypass services.
Currently, the Missouri DOT owns the weigh stations and Highway Patrol personnel carry out enforcement at the facilities.
Sponsored by Rep. T.J. Berry, R-Kearney, HB306 would clarify the Missouri Highway Patrol is the sole authority for approving bypass services. The state’s bypass provider would also be responsible for providing unrestricted real-time data access to weigh-in-motion systems and “all other associated equipment.”
Missouri now uses PrePass.
The state could be required to purchase and install weigh-in-motion systems at 19 locations with a cost of $200,000 to $300,000 per location, according to a fiscal analysis on the bill. The costs estimated at up to $5.7 million would not include maintenance of the systems.
Supporters say the bill sets methods to reopen the weigh station service provider market, and also encourage competition. Opponents challenge claims the current provider is a monopoly. Instead, they say the provider provides the best service at the best cost.
The Senate has voted to advance a bill that covers stinger-steered vehicle haulers. Specifically, affected vehicles authorized up to 80 feet could be operated on or within 10 miles of interstates and other highways.
SB399 would also permit vehicle haulers to carry cargo on backhaul as long as the load complies with weight limits for regular tractor-trailers. No towaway trailer transporter combos operating on interstates or the designated primary highway system would be permitted in excess of 82 feet.
The bill is in the House Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri, click here.