Truck-related bills advance in Indiana statehouse

| 2/27/2007

A handful of bills making their way through the Indiana General Assembly are of particular interest to truckers.

House lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that would provide tax credits to individuals and corporations who purchase and install truck auxiliary power units. To qualify, a motor vehicle must be classified as a heavy-duty vehicle under federal law and be equipped with a sleeping compartment.

Rep. Bill Cochran, D-New Albany, wrote in the bill that the tax credit would apply for trucks equipped with APUs as early as Jan. 1, 2007. The tax credit would be equal to 20 percent of the purchase price and installation cost of an APU.

An analysis of the bill estimates there could potentially be as many as 24,000 Indiana-based truck drivers who meet the requirements to receive tax credits for purchase and installation of APUs.

Cochran's bill - HB1165 - has been forwarded to the Senate. It is in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee.

Another bill that received unanimous support on the House floor would allow truckers based in the state to keep a little extra change in their pockets. Sponsored by Rep. Bob Kuzman, D-Crown Point, the bill would eliminate the $2 annual fee to renew the permanent registration of semi-trailers subject to the International Registration Plan.

Elimination of the fee would result in the loss of about $260 million in annual revenue for the state. The losses are based on about 132,000 annual registrations.

Kuzman's bill - HB1085 - is awaiting assignment to committee in the Senate.

Another bill would allow large trucks more access to certain roads in the state.

Sponsored by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, the bill would designate sections of state Routes 3 and 9 and U.S. 20 as extra heavy duty highways.

The change in classification would take effect once the Indiana Department of Transportation completes "all improvements, upgrades and rehabilitation necessary to make the designated sections suitable to safely bear loads permitted" for extra heavy-duty highways.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill - SB220 - clearing the way for it to advance to the House for further consideration.

One other bill is intended to protect consumers who have repair work done on their vehicles in the state. Sponsored by Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, the bill would require that vehicles "covered by a warranty issued by a repair shop may either obtain warranty service from the repair shop or be reimbursed from the repair shop for the expenses necessary to repair the defect covered by the warranty."

The protection would apply to motor vehicles and farm machinery.

Friend's bill - HB1277 - is in the House Judiciary Committee.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor