Virginia lawmakers approve notable truck bills

| 3/25/2009

Gov. Tim Kaine signed a bill into law that makes Virginia one of about 30 states to offer an incentive for truckers to reduce idling. It takes effect July 1, 2009.

Other bills of interest to truckers that have made their way through the statehouse and moved to the governor’s desk address truck parking, UCR violations and overweight truck permits.

The new law in Virginia increases the maximum gross vehicle, axle weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. Previously HB2073, the new rule authorizes trucks equipped with auxiliary power units to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

Supporters say that the weight exemption removes the disincentive that otherwise would keep truckers from using APUs.

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 idling-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.”

About 20 states do not allow 400-pound exemptions for APUs. Other states that might add the provision this year include Florida and Indiana. Maine is set to implement the rule Sept. 17.

A bill still atop the governor’s desk would allow certain counties and towns to prohibit parking of large trucks on certain streets.

HB1694 permits Fairfax and Prince William counties and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna to prohibit on-street parking of any truck “more than 20 feet in length” and any vehicle carrying commercial freight in plain view.

Another bill of interest to advance to Kaine’s desk would establish penalties for violating the Unified Carrier Registration system. SB1206 provides that operators of vehicles not in compliance with the federal UCR system would face fines up to $250.

One more bill of note to clear the statehouse would affect certain overweight truck permits. HB1752 would extend until July 1, 2010, the sunset on the law granting trucks hauling gravel, sand, or crushed stone no more than 50 miles from origin to destination in counties that impose a severance tax on coal and gases the same weight limits prescribed for coal trucks.

The bill also would allow the same overweight permits for trucks hauling coal and coal byproducts to electricity-generation facilities as trucks hauling coal to a loading dock or railroad. An annual overweight vehicle fee also would be set for tank wagons.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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