Texas bills cover truck weight enforcement, ports of entry wait times

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/3/2015

Texas House lawmakers could soon take up for consideration two bills that cover truck weight enforcement and wait times at ports of entry.

The first bill would set uniform weighing procedures for truck weight enforcement officers.

Sponsored by House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, HB1252 would require the Department of Public Safety to establish uniform procedures that all motor vehicle weight enforcement officers must follow.

The agency would also be authorized to revoke or rescind the authority of any weight enforcement officers, including a weight enforcement officer of a municipal police department, sheriff’s department or constable’s office, that fail to comply with the established weighing procedures.

Texas law authorizes penalties for overweight vehicles in excess of several thousand dollars based on the type of offense and whether the violator is a repeat offender.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports the bill. The Association has sent a Call to Action on the bill to Texas truckers and communicated the support of professional drivers to the bill sponsor.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said that due to the severity of overweight penalties, it is important that those responsible for weighing trucks are doing it correctly using uniform procedures.

In anticipation of increased trade traffic with the recent opening of the Mazatlan-Matamoros “superhighway,” a separate bill is intended to aid perishable loads crossing into South Texas.

Rep. Bobby Guerra, D-McAllen, is behind a bill to create a grant program to reduce wait times for agricultural inspections at ports of entry along the Texas-Mexico border. Specifically, local governments and private companies would be allowed to help pay for overtime and/or increased agricultural inspectors at international bridges during peak times.

The Texas Department of Agriculture would be responsible for monitoring and contracting the grant recipients to ensure compliance with state laws.

Guerra said similar partnerships have been successfully implemented in the El Paso and Laredo ports of entries.

“Implementing this partnership is a step in the right direction to providing the produce industry relief, increased food security, and helps ensure the economy continues to prosper,” Guerra said in a news release.

Guerra’s bill, HB979, and HB1252 await assignment to committee.

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