Near passage: Alabama bill would provide incentive to reduce truck idling

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/8/2010

An effort to reduce truck idling in Alabama is motoring along at the statehouse. Other states are also pursuing the initiative.

The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that would increase the maximum gross vehicle, axle weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. Trucks equipped with auxiliary power units would be authorized to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

The bill – HB127 – now moves to the full Senate for consideration. If approved there, it would advance to Gov. Bob Riley’s desk. House lawmakers have already endorsed it by unanimous consent.

This marks the third straight year the legislation has advanced to the Senate floor after receiving widespread support in the House. The two previous years it didn’t get a floor vote before the session ended.

Hopeful that the bill will advance to Gov. Bob Riley’s desk before the session ends in late April, supporters are again pushing the 400-pound exemption rule. They say it removes the disincentive that otherwise would keep truckers from using APUs.

Part of the appeal for passage of the legislation is detailed in a fiscal note for the bill. It explains that the exemption rule could increase registration fees as the added weight of such units puts the vehicle gross weight in a higher registration category.

States were granted federal authority in 2005 to allow a 400-pound margin in order to encourage the use of idling-reduction equipment. Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association point out it was the intent of Congress that the exemption be signed into law in every state, but it’s been a slow process.

OOIDA has advocated adoption of the 400-pound exemption, even before the federal authority was granted. The Association supports the exemption as reasonable because it’s another inducement to install APUs onto trucks.

Alabama is one of about a dozen states that do not allow 400-pound exceptions for APUs. States to add the provision in the past year include Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Maine and Virginia. Legislation is pending in Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts and West Virginia to adopt the provision to state law.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama in 2010, click here.

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