As state lawmakers put on a final push in New Jersey to approve bills before the regular session ends in about five weeks, a couple of bills of interest to truck drivers could draw consideration.
Truckers forced to wait in line at ports to load or unload are the subject of a bill offered by Sen. Bernard Kenny, D-Hoboken. The bill – S2217 – would prohibit ports from making a truck wait longer than 30 minutes before beginning the loading or off-loading of container cargo at a terminal.
Terminal operators would be subject to a $250 fine for making a truck wait longer than 30 minutes, and each delayed truck would be a separate violation.
Terminals attempting to avoid requirements in the bill by diverting trucks to area roadways or alternate staging areas to wait, or forcing the truck to wait inside the gate, would be subject to a $750 fine.
The bill would exempt terminals that maintain a fully staffed gate two hours before and after peak commuter hours in the morning and afternoon, at least five days a week.
Another measure would require terminals to ensure that containers are not overweight or improperly loaded. Under S2216, an ocean marine terminal found to be violating the order would face $500 fines, per occurrence.
Terminal operators would be forced to weigh each intermodal container upon the container’s arrival at the terminal. Overweight containers would be either allowed to be repacked at the port or returned to the sender.
In the event of repacking, the terminal operator would be forced to pay a trucker at the rate specified in the contract plus $100 per hour that the container was detained. If a truck departed a terminal with an overweight container and was later stopped by state officials, the terminal operator would be required to pay the trucker at the rate specified in the contract plus $100 per hour that the container was detained.
The bills have sat in the Senate Transportation Committee since they were introduced. All legislation must be approved by both chambers prior to the end of the regular session, which is scheduled for Jan. 8.
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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor