SPECIAL REPORT: Amendment would move up registration fix in Kansas

| 2/21/2003

Kansas officials are working to move up the effective date of a bill backed by OOIDA that would give owner-operators more of a say in truck registration.

Normally, the bill, if it were signed into law, would become effective July 1, as all new Kansas laws do. However, Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, chairman of the Transportation Committee and assistant majority leader, said he planned to add an amendment to the bill that could move its effective date up to as early as April 1.

The amendment was suggested by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said Gary Green of OOIDA's Business Services division. It was targeted at Kansas truckers who were registered in Oklahoma.

Because of recent IRP rulings, those truckers could not renew their Oklahoma tags. However, those tags run out in March, and under Kansas' current rules, owner-operators returning to Kansas base plates would then have to register their trucks under the carriers they were leased to.

Kansas law now requires an owner-operator leased to a carrier for 30 days or more to register his vehicle in the carrier's name.

SB130 would change the language of that law to allow trucks to be registered by "the lessee or the lessor," in essence allowing owner-operators and carriers to settle the matter themselves. The amendment will allow Kansas owner-operators to base plate at home in their own names before their current registrations run out.

"OOIDA jumped in on, brought it to their attention and started to visit with them," Green said. "They were more than helpful in trying to get something done quickly."

Donovan told Land Line the bill was scheduled to be debated before the full Senate Tuesday, Feb. 25. Action in the House is expected soon afterward.

"I've already talked to the chairman of House Transportation, alerted him to the problem and why we need to act on it quickly," he said. "He'll have a hearing at his earliest possibility."

The senator expects the bill to pass the Senate by a nearly unanimous vote, and to garner a similar victory in the House.

"I expect it to pass without objection," Donovan said.

"It's something that we needed to do, and we can move fairly quickly when we have to," he said. "I see this as a pretty important thing for a select group of people, and we need to give them all the relief we can."

In addition, the senator said the bill had little if any downside for the state. In fact, he said Kansas might pick up some truck registrations it had missed before.

Earlier this year, OOIDA officials traveled to the state capitol in Topeka, KS, to ask for changes in the law. The bill's new language would allow carriers and owner-operators to negotiate to determine where and under whom a truck would be registered, Spencer said.

"Any agreement should be between the owner-operator and the carrier," Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, "not a matter to be legislated."

The law as it stands now is an exception to the rules of the International Registration Plan, or IRP, concerning vehicle registration, and the IRP governing board is currently examining its wording. Some sources have indicated sanctions are expected if the current law isn't changed.

Initially, the Kansas Motor Carriers Association asked the state for a bill that would allow the registration to be determined by the motor carrier's preference, sparking opposition by OOIDA.

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor