Missouri lawmakers advance bill focusing on truck rules

| 5/10/2007

A bill moving through the Missouri statehouse includes several provisions of interest to truck drivers. It also would bring state law in line with some federal rules that were part of the 2005 federal highway funding legislation.

The House Special Committee on Tax Reform voted to advance the measure to the House Rules Committee after adding more provisions to the already lengthy bill. The Senate already approved it.

The bill – SB239 – would change the maximum length for saddlemount vehicle transporter combinations in the state from 75 feet to 97 feet, when operated on interstate highways. It also 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.

It 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 the Missouri Department of Transportation. Currently, household movers are exempt from the rules and regulations if their operations are restricted to those described areas.

Supporters say the change would put in-state companies and companies based outside the state on a level playing field.

A separate provision included in the bill would prohibit indemnity agreements in motor carrier transportation contracts that claim “to indemnify a party against loss from negligence or intentional acts void and unenforceable.”

Also included is a provision that would expand the area in which “local log trucks” and “local log truck tractors” can operate from 50 miles to 100 miles.

Added to the bill while in the House is a provision that would set up a program to certify local law enforcement officers to enforce CMV laws. It also would require owners of CMVs with a licensed gross weight in excess of 50,000 pounds to verify registration with motor carrier services to obtain or renew licenses.

Also added to the bill is a provision that would revise a 12-year old law to further limit the amount of total revenue a city receives from traffic violations.

A 1995 state law limits the amount of traffic fine revenue municipalities can keep. Under that law, cities or towns that receive more than 45 percent of their total annual revenue from fines for traffic violations must turn over any amount in excess of that 45 percent to the Department of Revenue.

The bill would reduce the amount to 35 percent.

It also 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.

Current state law applies the exemption only if the common carrier operates solely in interstate commerce. The bill would make the exemption applicable to both intrastate and interstate commerce.

A tax credit also would be created for the use of idle reduction technology. Individuals or businesses would be allowed to claim an income tax credit equal to 50 percent of the amount paid to purchase and install idle reduction technology on class 8 trucks. The maximum amount of the tax credit would be $3,500, per truck.

The provision would sunset two years after Aug. 28, 2007.

Removed from the bill in the House was a provision that would have allowed commercial motor vehicles originating in the state and delivering to neighboring states to meet weight restrictions of the destination states. If weight limits of the destination state are less than Missouri’s weight limits, the Missouri weight rule would have applied.

If House lawmakers endorse the bill it would head back to the Senate for approval of changes. It could then move to Gov. Matt Blunt’s desk for final approval.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor