Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed into law a bill that includes several trucking provisions, including a measure to further rein in speed traps.
The major transportation bill of the legislative session in the Show Me State includes more than four dozen provisions. Previously HB683, the new law includes a provision that is likely to get an approving nod from truckers who are often made to feel like benefactors for local coffers.
The provision is intended to curtail those communities in the state that pad their budgets with speed trap revenue, and it revises a 14-year-old law to further limit the amount of total revenue small towns can receive from traffic violation fines.
Supporters say the effort isn’t intended to punish local governments. They want to rein in cities that use their police departments to “pester” nonresident drivers with unreasonable ticketing.
In 1995, Missouri lawmakers approved legislation limiting the amount of traffic fine revenue municipalities can keep. Under that law, cities or towns that receive more than 45 percent of their total annual revenue from fines for traffic violations must turn over any amount in excess of that 45 percent to the Department of Revenue.
For cities with fewer than 1,000 residents, the new rule reduces the amount to 35 percent.
Among the other trucking provisions in the bill are rules on violating out-of-service orders and on prohibiting the issuance of commercial driver’s licenses to haul hazmat to people who fail to pass background checks.
Trucks transporting hazardous materials could be driven solely by operators who pass a background check by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. Licenses will be denied or revoked if the federal agency issues a “determination of a threat” by drivers.
Supporters said the change is needed to address federal rules that require states to deny or revoke licenses to people who pose threats to the country.
Another provision prohibits expunging records of CDL holders if they are found guilty or plead guilty with a blood-alcohol content of .04 percent or greater while holding a CDL at the time of the offense.
A separate provision mandates that CDL holders who fail to appear in court or pay would lose their driving privileges until they fulfill their obligations.
Another provision is intended to discourage violating out-of-service orders. People convicted of driving while out of service will be disqualified from driving truck “in a manner prescribed by the federal regulations.”
Supporters said adoption of the OOS penalty will preserve some of Missouri’s federal highway funding.
One more truck-related provision requires all shipments of radioactive waste traveling in and through the state to be assessed fees. The rule will sunset after six years.
Existing Missouri law doesn’t charge fees for the transport of radioactive waste products.
The rule change will have shippers who fail to pay fees or notify the Department of Natural Resources about shipments face penalties up to 10 times the amount of the original assessed fee.
Revenues from the fees will be deposited into the state’s Environmental Radiation Monitoring Fund.
Exemptions from the fees and notification requirements will be made for radioactive waste being shipped by or for the federal government for military or national defense purposes.
Also included in the bill is a provision that is intended to help make roadways safer. It allows abandoned vehicles left on the roadside to be towed after being left unattended for 24 hours. The rule applies to stretches of highway or freeway outside of urban areas.
Currently, Missouri law requires 48 hours to pass before abandoned vehicles can be moved from roadways outside of urban areas.
Law enforcement now will have authority to call for the immediate removal of abandoned vehicles on any portion of roadway if the vehicle is creating a traffic hazard.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri 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.