Indiana laws target perishable loads, local road funds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/30/2012

Two new laws in Indiana are designed to help ensure food safety in commercial vehicles and to provide another funding source for local road work.

Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law a bill to allow the Indiana State Police to inspect commercial vehicles transporting food products to make sure loads comply with health rules or certain health requirements.

Previously HB1298, the new law also allows troopers to detain affected vehicles to determine compliance with applicable food safety rules. In addition, health inspectors could order the disposal of certain food and the impoundment of noncomplying vehicles.

Offenders found to be transporting loads not in compliance could face $10,000 fines. Hauling food that was ordered disposed could result in $5,000 fines.

According to a fiscal statement on the bill, in the past five years the Indiana State Department of Health has inspected 259 trucks, finding 20 trucks in violation. As a result, 15,937 pounds of food were disposed.

Rep. Bill Davis, R-Portland, said the change will help ensure that haulers are complying with food safety standards. If a trooper would find evidence of contamination, the state Department of Health would investigate.

“Commercial vehicles handle our food products every day, but there is no efficient process in place to monitor and enforce food safety standards,” Davis said in a recent statement. “Ensuring the link in the food chain complies with safety rules is necessary to keep dangerous contaminants from our food.”

The new law took effect immediately.

Another new law permits counties to use property taxes to pay for local road projects.

Indiana law now mandates that property taxes be used for county highway maintenance only in an emergency. Unanimous approval from county councils also is required.

Starting July 1, 2012, counties will be authorized to spend property tax revenue to maintain county highways. The affected roads typically are funded through a combination of fuel taxes, vehicle and county fees.

“We wanted to allow county officials the flexibility to use revenue from their general fund for road maintenance when needed,” stated Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale.

Previously SB98, the new law allows counties to spend property tax or other miscellaneous general fund revenue on highway maintenance.

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

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