Missouri bills tackle trucking, safety issues

| 4/11/2006

A Missouri House panel has approved a bill that would allow the state’s Highway Commission to revoke licenses and registrations of motor carriers in certain circumstances. The bill is one of several trucking and highway-safety related bills up for consideration before lawmakers.

The House Transportation Committee voted Wednesday, April 5, to advance a bill that would authorize the state to suspend, revoke or cancel the registration, license, permit or other credentials issued to motor carriers if a federal agency or the state commission has issued an out-of-service order against the motor carrier.

Sponsored by Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, the rule would be applicable to out-of-service orders placing a motor carrier’s entire operation out of service. It would not apply to out-of-service orders placing an individual driver or vehicle out-of-service violations.

Affected motor carriers would be prohibited from operating any commercial motor vehicle and could not allow employees to operate commercial motor vehicles in intrastate or interstate commerce.

The motor carrier would be forced to surrender all license plates, motor carrier licenses, registrations, permits and other credentials.

After an order has been issued, out-of-state motor carriers would not be eligible to apply for the issuance or reinstatement of any license, registration, permit, certificate or other credentials until the out-of-service order has been rescinded or “the orders have been set aside by a court of proper jurisdiction.”

Griesheimer’s bill – SB1001 – is on its way to the full House for consideration. It already passed the Senate 30-2.

Among the other trucking related bills also up for consideration is a measure that would make rest areas throughout the state off limits to all travelers – except truck drivers.

A bill offered by Sen. Dan Clemens, R-Marshfield, would require the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to ban from rest areas all vehicles except commercial motor vehicles and truck-tractors or truck-tractor combinations. It would also prohibit the construction of new rest areas.

The bill – SB1126 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Another trucking bill would clarify that an owner-operator leased to a trucking company is not an employee for purposes of unemployment compensation.

Sponsored by Sen. Dan Clemens, R-Marshfield, the bill – SB755 – is awaiting consideration before the full Senate.

The Senate approved a bill that would clarify the common carrier sales tax exemption for the purchase of motor vehicles – with a gross weight of 24,000 pounds or more – or trailers.

Missouri law now applies the exemption only if the common carrier operates solely in interstate commerce.

SB696, sponsored by Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, would make the exemption applicable to both intrastate and interstate commerce.

The bill also would exempt contractors from paying sales taxes on materials used in Department of Transportation projects after June 30, 2007. It is in the House Job Creation and Economic Development Committee.

One other bill before the full Senate would allow common carriers of household goods to file applications to the State Highways and Transportation Commission for approval of rates to reflect increases and decreases in the carrier’s costs.

Sponsored by Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, the bill – SB1027 – also would “repeal the exemption that currently allows household goods movers to operate wholly in municipalities, between contiguous municipalities, or commercial zones” without having to obtain operating authority from MoDOT. Currently, household movers are exempt from the rules and regulations if their operations are restricted to those described areas.

The House unanimously approved a highway-safety bill that would create stiffer penalties for drivers who fail to make room for emergency vehicles.

Drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way when an ambulance or police vehicle is approaching with lights and sirens activated would face fines up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail. Existing state law allows for violators to be fined up to $500 and/or six months in jail.

Sponsored by Rep. Scott Lipke, R-Jackson, HB1310 has been sent to the Senate Transportation Committee.

A similar effort to protect emergency personnel is included in a separate bill.

Under the bill, sponsored by Sen. Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, penalties would be boosted for drivers who fail to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed before passing emergency vehicles that are parked by the road with their lights flashing and for failure to pull over and make way for oncoming emergency vehicles.

On two-lane highways, drivers would be required to reduce speed before passing the emergency vehicle.

Violators would face up to a year in jail and/or as much as a $1,000 fine.

Gibbons’ bill – SB872 – is in the House Transportation Committee. It already passed the Senate.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor