New laws for 2014: Speed limit changes, goodbye to Kansas ad valorem, no butts

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/27/2013

As the calendar flips to the New Year, notable new laws that are taking effect around the country address issues related to trucking.

The state of Kansas is doing away with the long-running motor carrier property tax, or ad valorem. Collected since the 1950s, the tax is based on the value of rolling stock and is collected on motor carriers, regardless of baseplate, that use Kansas roads.

Effective Wednesday, Jan. 1, the state will cease collection of the tax in exchange for an additional registration fee applied to intrastate and interstate operations. Out-of-state truckers will pay the tax through the International Registration Plan.

The change was approved by state lawmakers in 2012, but the implementation was delayed until 2014. In the meantime, the ad valorem tax has been applied for the 2012 and 2013 tax years.

Once the calendar turns over, the new commercial vehicle fee will be $400 a year for tractor-trailers in excess of 60,000 pounds and registered through IRP. Trucks registered with this fee will be eligible for apportioned registration.

The change is expected to be a cost savings for truckers and the state.

According to a state analysis, although the new law will result in lost revenue for the state it will save money that typically was needed to keep the program running. Specifically, trucking-related functions that are performed by three divisions at the Kansas Department of Revenue will be consolidated.

Effective Jan. 1 in Tennessee is a new law intended to rein in “civil asset forfeiture.” The scheme allows police to take cash, or property, from people pulled over along roadsides without charging them with a crime.

Specifically, the new rule forbids “ex parte” hearings. The practice prevents individuals from getting a hearing before a judge to determine whether law enforcement had probable cause to take their property.

Instead, individuals would be able to go before a judge and tell their side of the story, as well as present evidence to support their claim. The judge would listen to both sides and make a decision. If the judge rules in favor of the individuals, their property must be returned immediately.

In New Hampshire, a new rule in effect the first of the year authorizes a boost in the speed limit along an 80-mile portion of Interstate 93 north of Concord. The rule change increases speeds for all vehicles from 65 mph to 70 mph from mile marker 45 near Canterbury to the Vermont border.

Gov. Maggie Hassan said the rule change brings the speed limit more in line with the habits of truckers and other drivers traveling in rural areas.

The change doesn’t apply to the Franconia Notch area, where the speed limit will remain at 55 mph.

Truckers and others using many of Illinois’ rural roadways and tollways will be authorized to drive a little faster starting Jan. 1. The speed limit will be raised from 65 to 70 mph on rural four-lane highways and most portions of the Illinois Tollway. However, the Illinois Department of Transportation says all the signs reflecting the change on affected roadways won’t be posted until the middle of the month.

State officials ask travelers to wait until new signage is installed before driving the new speed limit.

“This limited 5-mile-per-hour increase will bring Illinois’ rural interstate speed limits in line with our neighbors and the majority of states across America,” Gov. Pat Quinn said in a news release.

The number of Illinois highways where new speeds are authorized could change. Cook and the “collar” counties surrounding Chicago, and Madison and St. Clair counties outside of St. Louis can opt out of the rule change. Trucks will continue to be limited to 55 on the northern portion of the Tri-State Tollway, and on an eight-mile segment of I-88 in Kane County.

Another new law taking effect in Illinois adds cigarette butts to the list of items that a person can be charged with littering. The violation carries a maximum fine of $1,500 and up to 180 days behind bars. To make matters worse, a judge is authorized to require violators to pick up litter along roadways for 30 days.

Truckers who call Delaware their home will be required to have an extra piece of equipment attached to the vehicle. Commercial vehicles in excess of 26,000 pounds registered in the state after the first of the year are required to be equipped with an audible reverse warning signal, backup camera or other warning device.

The rule applies to single and combination vehicles in the International Registration Plan and non-IRP trucks.

Anyone who fails to equip their truck with the required equipment would face $75 fines. Repeat offenders would face $175 fines.

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