A legislative effort in Illinois is likely to make the blood of truckers boil a bit while another bill seems more likely to receive applause.
Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Des Plaines, is pursuing as much as 500 percent increases in fines for idling violations. The department handing out the tickets would get the bulk of the revenue.
Illinois law now prohibits diesel-powered vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 8,000 pounds from stationary idling longer than 10 minutes per hour in areas that include Chicago and East St. Louis, IL.
Violators face $50 fines for first offenses. Second or subsequent offenses within any 12-month period result in $150 fines. Certain exceptions apply.
Nekritz wants to boost the first-offender fine from $50 to $250. Repeat offenses would increase from $150 to $500.
The bill – HB2664 – includes an incentive for local law enforcement to make sure truckers follow the letter of the law. For first offenses, the ticket writing agency would keep 60 percent of the fine. For repeat offenses, the agency would get more than 50 percent. The rest of the money would be routed into the state’s general revenue fund and into a fund to educate truckers about the idling rule.
Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association were particularly concerned with the bill’s intent to boost fines with lucrative incentives being offered for tickets written.
“This legislation would turn a law enforcement officer into little more than a bounty hunter,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line. “It would skew their priorities.”
In place since 2007, the idling rule is waived when temperatures are less than 32 degrees or higher than 80 degrees. Truckers are allowed to operate defrosters, heaters, air conditioners, or other equipment necessary “to prevent a safety or health emergency.”
A separate provision in current law addresses truckers who many times are forced to wait for extended amounts of time to conduct business. Illinois law specifies that while waiting to weigh, load or unload cargo or freight, truckers are limited to idling for no more than 30 minutes per hour, “unless they are in a line of vehicles that regularly and periodically moves forward.”
The House Vehicles and Safety Committee was scheduled to consider the bill during a hearing Wednesday, March 4. However, the committee opted not to take up the measure.
With a March 12 deadline looming for the bill to advance from committee, the inaction by lawmakers could potentially be a fatal blow for the legislation.
Another bill is of significant interest to the pocketbooks of truckers with Illinois base plates.
Sponsored by Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, the bill – SB1434 – would repeal collection of the commercial distribution fee for trucks in the state. The amount is a 14.35 percent surcharge on the annual registration fees.
For truck registrations of 80,000 pounds, truckers are required to chip in another $400 to cover the CDF. On top of the $2,790 they already pay for base plates, truckers pay nearly $3,200 a year to tag their trucks in the state.
Spencer was glad to hear about the action being sought to eliminate the fee that he said amounts to a tax on a tax.
“We think it’s wholly appropriate that it should be eliminated,” Spencer said.
The bill is scheduled for consideration in the Senate Revenue Committee Thursday, March 5. To read OOIDA’s Call to Action for SB1434, click here.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois in 2009, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.