Arkansas road funds hinge on CDL standards

| Friday, January 28, 2005

Arkansas might lose millions in federal highway money if state lawmakers don’t meet recently enacted federal standards for commercial driver’s licenses.

An effort in the Arkansas House would add the standards to state law.

The standards are in two federal laws, including the USA Patriot Act. Failure to comply carries the possibility of losing highway dollars.

The first year of noncompliance would cause a 5 percent cut, according to media reports. Subsequent penalties would be doubled.

Also, the federal government could take away the state’s authority to issue CDLs.

A bill offered by Rep. Sid Rosenbaum, R-Little Rock, would make the needed changes in state law.

Federal law mandates a fingerprint-based background check on all truck drivers who haul hazardous materials. The cost of the check is estimated at about $100.

The fee is made up of three parts: a fee for the collection of fingerprints and applicant information; a fee for threat assessment, during which the Transportation Security Administration decides whether the person is a security threat; and a fee for the FBI to run the fingerprints through its system.

Under the proposal, after Jan. 31 anyone seeking a CDL with an endorsement to haul hazardous materials for the first time would need such a background check. After May 31, anyone renewing or transferring a hazmat endorsement from one state to another would have to have a background check.

HB1205 is in the House Public Transportation Committee.

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