Truck-related bills near passage in Indiana

| 4/25/2007

A couple of bills making there way through the Indiana General Assembly are of particular interest to truckers – one would eliminate a trailer registration fee and the other would open more roads to trucks.

The Senate unanimously approved a bill that would allow truckers based in the state to keep a little extra change in their pockets. The bill – HB1085 – now heads to Gov. Mitch Daniels’ desk. The House already approved it by unanimous consent.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Kuzman, D-Crown Point, the bill would eliminate the $2 annual fee to renew the permanent registration of semi-trailers subject to the International Registration Plan.

Elimination of the fee would result in the loss of about $260,000 in annual revenue for the state. The losses are based on about 132,000 annual registrations.

House lawmakers approved another bill that would allow large trucks more access to certain roads in the state. The bill – SB220 – has been sent back to the Senate for final approval before moving to the governor’s desk.

Sponsored by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, the bill would designate sections of state Routes 3 and 9 and U.S. 20 as extra heavy duty highways.

The change in classification would take effect once the Indiana Department of Transportation completes “all improvements, upgrades and rehabilitation necessary to make the designated sections suitable to safely bear loads permitted” for extra heavy duty highways.

A provision added to the bill in the House would allow the issuance of annual permits for heavy vehicles transporting ocean going containers. The permit fee would be $800.

An effort that didn’t make it through the General Assembly would have provided tax credits to individuals and corporations who purchase and install truck auxiliary power units. To qualify, a motor vehicle would have to have been classified as a heavy-duty vehicle under federal law and be equipped with a sleeping compartment.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Cochran, D-New Albany, the bill failed to met a deadline to advance to the Senate floor, effectively killing it. The House previously approved it by unanimous consent.

Cochran wrote in the bill – HB1165 – that the tax credit would apply to trucks equipped with APUs as early as Jan. 1, 2007. The tax credit would have been equal to 20 percent of the purchase price and installation cost of an APU.

An analysis of the bill estimates there could potentially be as many as 24,000 Indiana-based truck drivers who would have met the requirements to receive tax credits for purchase and installation of APUs.

One other bill that died in committee was intended to protect consumers who have repair work done on their vehicles in the state. Sponsored by Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, the bill – HB1277 – would have required that vehicles “covered by a warranty issued by a repair shop may either obtain warranty service from the repair shop or be reimbursed from the repair shop for the expenses necessary to repair the defect covered by the warranty.”

The protection would have applied to motor vehicles and farm machinery.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor