Several trucking bills put on hold in Illinois

| 6/18/2007

A bill in the Illinois House that intended to allow some large trucks access on local roads in the state has stalled. A handful of other truck-related bills also have been sidelined for the year.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, the truck-access bill would change restrictions on how far trucks may travel off main routes to deliver their loads, fuel up or get rest. It was moved to the House Rules Committee where it can be brought back for consideration once the 2008 session begins.

Current state law allows certain trucks to travel up to 5 highway miles off any state-designated highway to load or unload. In addition, those same trucks can travel off any state-designated highway and travel no more than 5 miles on “any state, county, township or municipal highway” to get fuel, food, repairs or rest.

Black’s bill – HB918 – would allow those truckers to travel off any highway – not just those designated by the state – for whatever distance is necessary to load, unload, get a meal, fuel or repair their vehicles, or obtain needed rest. The only requirement would be that the trucker take the “shortest practical” route to his or her destination.

Another bill relegated to the Rules Committee until next year would repeal a $400 fee targeting Illinois-based truckers. Sponsored by Rep. Careen Gordon, D-Coal City, the measure – HB1113 – would eliminate the annual commercial distribution fee charged on each truck.

The surcharge added onto the state’s truck registration fees has been around for four years. Several Illinois-based truckers and motor carriers cited the fee as a reason for closing their doors or leaving the state.

When implemented in July 2003, the fee added a 36 percent surcharge on truck registration fees. Uproar from the trucking industry led to the law being amended the following year to gradually reduce the surcharge amount.

In July 2005, the surcharge was trimmed to 21.5 percent. The following summer the rate dipped to 14.35 percent.

A vote by the full Senate has been delayed until December for a bill intended to lower diesel emissions in the state. Sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, the bill would put in place a 2.5 percent surcharge onto the sale or lease of trucks that don’t have 2007 engines.

The measure – SB268 – also would set up a program to register all diesel-powered vehicles, on-road and off-road, as well as trains and boats.

Another emissions bill has been put to rest for the year. Sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Des Plaines, the bill would require all 1993-1998 model trucks in excess of the 16,000 gross vehicle weight rating to have federally mandated computer hardware and/or software installed to control nitrogen oxide emissions.

Non-compliance could result in vehicles being placed out of service. Punishment for violating the OOS rule would be a fine of $1,000.

The bill – HB3661 – is in the House Rules Committee.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor