Montana truck bills won’t move forward

| 4/10/2009

Noteworthy legislative efforts in Montana will have to wait until the next regular session that addressed truck weight limits, English-only CDL testing and opting out of daylight-saving time.

Each of the bills missed deadlines to advance, effectively killing them for the year.

Rep. Julie French, D-Scobey, offered a bill that called for increasing truck weight limits for certain haulers in winter months. The measure – HB233 – authorized a wintertime 10 percent overweight permit for hauling grain, hay, livestock or “products needed to support the operation” of farms or ranches.

The special order would have been applied from Dec. 1 to March 7 each year. Permits would have cost $50 for each towing vehicle and would have been valid for 30 days or until March 7, whichever is earlier.

For the second session in a row, a separate bill – HB633 – which met the same fate required testing for driver’s licenses to be offered only in English. Sponsored by Rep. Edward Butcher, R-Winifred, the bill applied the English requirement to all forms of driver’s licenses, including commercial driver’s licenses.

Currently, six states limit licensing tests to English only. Efforts to adopt the standard have popped up in other states in the past year.

Opponents said there are no studies that suggest English proficiency makes better drivers.

Advocates for the English standard said it’s a matter of safety.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association advocates making sure potential truckers, as well as other drivers, can communicate in English.

Rick Craig, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, said that making the English requirement standard for the written and driving portions of the test is vital and all states should be doing it.

Another bill that failed to gain approval from lawmakers sought to authorize Montana to opt out of daylight saving time. Standard time would have become the official time for the state and it would have been recognized throughout the year.

Sponsored by Sen. Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell, SB177 specified that if the U.S. government enacts a law or regulation relating to the adoption of daylight-saving time by all states, Montana would comply with the rule.

The bills can be brought back for consideration during the regular session that begins in January 2011. Montana doesn’t have a regular session in even numbered years.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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