Florida bill authorizes 400-lb exception for APUs

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An effort to reduce truck idling is among the provisions included in a lengthy transportation bill on the move in the Florida House.

The House Economic Development and Community Affairs Policy Council unanimously approved a bill – HB1271 – that includes an incentive to reduce truck idling. It 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.

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

Adopting the weight exemption would create greater uniformity between federal and state law, a legislative analysis of the bill reports. The change is important to trucks and “would assist regulatory officials by preventing enforcement ambiguities that could cause problems for drivers during inspections.”

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 that it was the intent of Congress that the exemption be signed into law in every state, but it’s been a slow-go.

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.

A dozen states do not allow 400-pound exceptions for APUs. States to add the provision in recent weeks include Indiana and West Virginia. Legislation is pending in Alabama and Massachusetts to adopt the provision to state law.

Another provision in the 111-page bill would boost the maximum weight allowed for trucks moving agricultural products, under certain circumstances. The Florida Department of Transportation or local authorities could issue permits allowing agricultural haulers on non-interstates a 10 percent increase in the weight limit on designated routes specified in the permit.

The bill has advanced through three House committees. It now awaits clearance for full consideration on the House floor. If approved there, the bill would move to the Senate.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Florida, click here.

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.

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