Nebraska takes action on livestock spillage, CDL process, load limits

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/13/2014

A new law in Nebraska covers spillage from livestock haulers on certain highways in the state.

Gov. Dave Heineman signed a bill into law on Thursday, Feb. 13, to increase the mandatory-minimum penalty for manure and urine spills in certain instances.

Fines for spills from livestock trucks that occur in urban areas would increase from a minimum of $100 to a minimum of $250. Revenue from fines will continue to be routed to public schools in the affected county.

Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha has said that there were 42 documented manure spills in south Omaha from August 2009 to October 2010.

Spilling from livestock trailers leaving south Omaha stockyards “has plagued my part of the state for generations,” Mello stated. “These spills are not only a potential public health hazard, but also have a tendency to cause numerous traffic accidents.

“It is my hope and the hope of south Omaha area businesses that an increase in the level of fines will serve as a deterrent for the few bad actors.”

Critics of the fine increase said it could damage Omaha’s meat-packing industry.

Two more bills would put the state in line with federal regulations. LB981 would change commercial vehicle provisions relating to falsified information, medical examinations, texting and use of handheld cellphones.

Any information that is falsified in the application or in the medical examiner’s certificate for a CDL could lead to license cancellation.

Another bill would revise the CDL process in the state. LB983 would require increased auditing and monitoring of CDL skills testing of both state and third-party CDL examiners.

The Department of Motor Vehicles now is able to monitor less than 2.5 percent of all CDL skills testing, according to state figures. The bill would allow the state to increase monitoring to more than 15 percent with the addition of three CDL compliance officers.

A fiscal note estimates that increased expenses to comply with the federal rules would cause some county locations to stop offering CDL testing.

Failure to adopt the rules would put Nebraska in non-compliance with federal regulations. As a result, the state would lose out on an estimated $13.7 million in fiscal year 2015 and the amount would double to $27.4 million each year thereafter.

One more bill would expand load limits for farm equipment haulers. Sponsored by Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton, LB1039 would permit truck drivers acting as agents of farm equipment dealers to follow the same width, height and length restrictions reserved for dealers.

The bills are in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

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