Maine House approves weight exception for APUs

| 3/6/2009

A bill to offer an incentive to reduce truck idling is nearing passage in the Maine Legislature. A separate effort to reopen certain rest stops on U.S. Route 1 resulted in a different outcome.

The House endorsed a bill that would increase the maximum gross vehicle, axle weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. The proposal would authorize trucks equipped with auxiliary power units to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

Rep. Ken Theriault, D-Madawaska, said that the bill would remove the disincentive that would keep truckers from using APUs.

“In this economy we need to provide any assistance we can to assist Maine truckers,” Theriault told lawmakers during recent discussion on the bill. “A reduction of 400 pounds in cargo is a major loss in hauling potential and represents an economic disincentive for using these units.”

Theriault also said that the state’s commitment to reducing its dependence on foreign oil is well served by the bill.

States were granted federal authority in 2005 to allow heavy-duty trucks to exceed the 80,000-pound maximum weight limit to encourage the use of idle-reduction equipment.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have long advocated adoption of the 400-pound exemption.

“It was the intent of Congress that the 400-pound exemption become law in all states,” Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s regulatory affairs specialist told Land Line. “The Association supports the exemption as reasonable because it’s another inducement to install an APU onto your truck.”

Maine is one of about 20 states that do not allow 400-pound exceptions for APUs. Other states looking to add the provision this year include Florida, Indiana and Virginia.

Theriault’s bill – LD37 – now awaits final consideration on the Senate floor. If approved, it would move to Gov. John Baldacci’s desk.

While the APU measure nears passage, a separate effort also offered by Theriault has been withdrawn from consideration because of a lack of funding available. The bill – LD36 – sought to give truckers and other drivers more options for stopping along U.S. Route 1. It proposed to reopen closed rest areas in Fort Kent and Grand Isle.

The expense of reopening and maintaining the two rest areas would have been shared with the affected communities.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maine in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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