Emissions, hazmat are topics of interest in New Jersey statehouse

| 10/18/2006

As the end of the regular session approaches in New Jersey, legislation of interest to truck drivers still could draw consideration.

One bill would require New Jersey-based truckers who haul hazardous materials intrastate to be compensated "with an hourly wage, exclusive of overtime pay or other benefits paid to the driver." The bill specifies that the hourly wage be paid by the business, corporation, company, organization or other entity a driver is hauling for.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, said the bill is intended as an alternative method of compensation to better promote safety on the state's roadways.

Burzichelli wrote in the bill that hazardous materials haulers are often paid by the load. "This practice often encourages drivers to travel at excess speeds and increases the likelihood that a commercial motor vehicle transporting hazardous material may be involved in accident, placing the citizens of New Jersey at unnecessary risk from these hazardous materials."

He also wrote that nothing in the measure "is to be deemed or construed so as to limit, alter, or impair in any way any other applicable provision of federal or state law or regulation concerning the operation in intrastate or interstate commerce" of hazardous materials haulers.

Another bill would double penalties for large trucks that fail roadside emissions inspections.

Sponsored by Assemblyman John Rooney, R-Emerson, the measure would increase the fine for first-time violators from $700 to $1,400. A second or subsequent offense within one year of the previous violation would result in a $2,600 fine, up from $1,300.

If the truck's owner can provide certification of repairs to the vehicle "that is satisfactory to the court and in compliance with emissions standards," fines would be reduced.

The fine for first-time violators who provide proof of repairs would pay $300, up from $150. Repeat offenders with proof of repairs would pay $1,000, up from $500.

Rooney's bill - A1136 - is in the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. Burzichelli's bill - A1932 - is in the Assembly Transportation and Public Works Committee.

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn in January 2007. Any bill that doesn't gain approval in both chambers prior to the end of the session can be brought back for consideration next year.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor