The Oregon General Assembly meets in regular session once every two years. Since this year’s session opened in January legislators have offered numerous bills related to trucking that include incentives to reduce idling, heftier fines for violating out-of-service orders and higher fuel-related taxes.
House and Senate lawmakers approved a bill by unanimous consent that would increase the maximum weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle reduction technology. The bill would authorize affected trucks to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.
The bill – SB223 – now heads to Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.
Another bill before the governor includes a provision that would get tough with those driving truck who don’t heed their out-of-service orders. It would increase the minimum and maximum penalty for violating OOS orders.
Oregon law now requires violators to face between $1,100 and $2,750 fines. The bill would boost the fine range from between $2,750 to $11,000. It also would provide for the reinstatement of a “lifetime suspension” of a commercial driver’s license after 10 years.
Kulongoski already signed a bill into law that amends the state’s definition of “registration weight” by adding a reference to “loaded weight.”
The new law, previously HB2271, defines registration weight as the combined weight or the loaded weight required to be declared and established as the maximum combined weight or loaded weight at which certain vehicles will be operated on highways.
While some truck-related bills have flourished in the statehouse others have floundered. Among the bills that appear to be on their last leg is a measure that would increase taxes on truckers and other drivers to generate $125 million a year for roads.
Sponsored by Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, the bill would increase the state’s per gallon tax on gasoline by 5 cents. It also would establish automatic tax increases of 5 cents every five years. For truckers, the corresponding weight-mile fees also would be increased.
Another fleeting effort would increase car and truck registration fees. Sponsored by Rep. Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, the bill would increase fees for an 80,000 pound truck from $490 annually to $660. Car fees would rise from $27 per year to $39.
The bill – HB3018 – also would mandate that 25 percent of the revenue from the higher fees be used for projects “of statewide significance.”
A separate bill focuses on splash and spray guards on large trucks. Sponsored by Rep. Scott Bruun, R-West Linn, the bill – HB3031 – would fine truckers $180 for operating a truck tractor and trailer combination without splash and spray guards mounted at every double wheel well on each side of the vehicle.
Another bill that its days appear numbered would give weighmasters and motor carrier enforcement officers more power. The bill – HB3273 – would allow weighmasters or motor carrier enforcement officers to stop and detain vehicles. Vehicles would be required to stop and submit to any enforcement “when directed to do so by any sign, warning lights or other signal.”
Bills must advance from committee of the chamber they were introduced by April 30. Any bills that fail to meet the deadline would effectively be killed for the year.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor