Illinois legislators discuss several trucking bills

| 4/17/2007

A bill awaiting consideration on the floor of the Illinois House would allow some large trucks access to local roads in the state. A handful of other truck-related bills also are making their way through the state Capitol.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, the truck-access bill would change restrictions on how far trucks may travel off main routes to deliver their loads, fuel up or get rest.

Current state law allows certain trucks to travel up to five highway miles off any state-designated highway to load or unload. In addition, those same trucks can travel off any state-designated highway and travel no more than five miles on “any state, county, township or municipal highway” to get fuel, food, repairs or rest.

Black’s bill – HB918 – would allow those truckers to travel off any highway – not just those designated by the state – for whatever distance is necessary to load, unload, get a meal, fuel or repair their vehicles, or obtain needed rest. The only requirement would be that the trucker take the “shortest practical” route to his or her destination.

Another bill would repeal a $400 fee targeting Illinois-based truckers. Sponsored by Rep. Careen Gordon, D-Coal City, the measure would eliminate the annual commercial distribution fee charged on each truck.

The surcharge added onto the state’s truck registration fees has been around for four years. Several Illinois-based truckers and motor carriers cited the fee as a reason for closing their doors or leaving the state.

When it was implemented in July 2003, the fee added a 36 percent surcharge on truck registration fees. Uproar from the trucking industry led to the law being amended the following year to gradually reduce the surcharge amount.

In July 2005, the surcharge was trimmed to 21.5 percent. The following summer the rate dipped to 14.35 percent.

Gordon’s bill – HB1113 – is in the House Rules Committee.

A bill nearing passage in the Senate is intended to lower diesel emissions in the state. Sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, the bill would put impose a 2.5 percent surcharge on the sale or lease of trucks that don’t have 2007 engines.

The measure – SB268 – also would set up a program to register all diesel-powered vehicles – on-road and off-road – as well as trains and boats.

Another emissions bill is moving along much slower. Sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Des Plaines, the bill would require all 1993-1998 model trucks in excess of the 16,000 gross vehicle weight rating to have federally mandated computer hardware and/or software installed to control nitrogen oxide emissions.

Non-compliance could result in vehicles being placed out of service. Punishment for violating the OOS rule would be a fine of $1,000.

The bill – HB3661 – is in the House Rules Committee.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor