Washington state lawmakers go after 'worst-of-the-worst'

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, March 06, 2012

On the verge of wrapping up their work for the year, Washington state lawmakers have endorsed a truck bill that is intended to make roadways safer. Another bill covers a heavy-haul corridor at the Port of Tacoma.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve a bill that is intended to get tough with “the worst-of-the-worst” trucking operations that disregard out-of-service orders. The bill – HB2459 – now moves to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s desk. House lawmakers already approved it.

If signed into law, law enforcement would be authorized to confiscate license plates from motor carriers that continue to operate with a revoked registration.

In an effort to improve safety on roadways, Washington State Patrol, city police and county sheriffs’ deputies would be required to take plates off trucks in operation while the vehicle registration is revoked, suspended, or canceled. The authority to pull plates would apply to trucks and tractors.

Law enforcement would be instructed to recycle or destroy plates on all vehicles in an affected fleet.

Larry Pursley, executive vice president of the Washington Trucking Association, was vocal on the issue throughout the legislative process.

He said the rule would provide a much-needed tool for law enforcement “to get at the one-tenth of one percent of the carriers out there that continue to flaunt their illegal activity and operate after they have been placed out of service,” Pursley told lawmakers during a recent hearing on the bill.

“It’s one more step toward compliance for these companies that are really out of control and have proven to be a danger to the public,” said Washington State Patrol Captain Jason Berry.

Awaiting a vote on the Senate floor is a bill to lengthen a heavy-haul corridor near the Port of Tacoma. Sponsored by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, the bill would extend the corridor on State Route 509 by 1.82 miles.

State law now allows a 3.63-mile segment of SR 509 to be designated as a heavy-haul corridor. The affected port district stretches from the port complex to Taylor Way.

Jinkins told lawmakers the extension would benefit additional businesses in the vicinity of Norpoint Way Northeast.

Supporters say that obtaining a special permit for heavy equipment is preferred to leasing equipment for the job. It was noted during the committee’s discussion on the bill that the permit fees are used to maintain the highway.

If approved by the full Senate, HB2476 would advance to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s desk. House lawmakers already approved it.

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

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