Illinois bills cover towing, truck fees, firearms

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Truck issues are commonplace year after year at the Illinois statehouse. This year is not any different.

One bill awaiting a final vote on the Senate floor would put limits in place on nonconsensual tows of large trucks. Specifically, SB2932 would prohibit towers from removing a commercial vehicle under the vehicle’s own power without authorization from law enforcement.

Sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, the bill would forbid “towing” a truck by operating the vehicle under its own power as opposed to physically hauling the vehicle away unless police authorize moving the vehicle.

Sullivan said the protection is needed to address use of a master key to start up and move vehicles without authorization from the truck driver, or company.

“It raises liability concerns about whether tow company drivers are qualified to get behind the wheel of a large vehicle,” Sullivan told Land Line. “My legislation says you cannot use a master key to move a vehicle unless you have permission from law enforcement.”

If approved by the full Senate, the bill would head to the House where a nearly identical version, HB4392, is in the House Rules Committee.

A separate bill takes another crack at allowing truckers with Illinois base plates to keep more money in their pockets.

Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, is again pursuing a rule change that would repeal collection of the commercial distribution fee for trucks in the state. The amount is a 14.35 percent surcharge of the annual registration fees.

For truck registrations of 80,000 pounds, truckers are required to chip in another $400 to cover the CDF. On top of the nearly $2,800 they already pay for base plates, truckers pay about $3,200 a year to tag their trucks in the state.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer has said the fee amounts to a tax on a tax. He has referred to the fee as “wholly inappropriate,” and he said it should be eliminated.

SB2927 is in the Senate Revenue Committee.

Also introduced by Sandoval is a bill that would simplify commercial driver’s license testing for more prospective truck drivers.

Illinois law now requires the state and third-party testers to make testing available in English, Spanish and Polish.

SB3373 would add Mandarin to the list of test offerings.

Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, introduced a bill that would authorize vehicle haulers to be a little bit taller. HB4592 would allow vehicles designed to transport multiple vehicles to reach a height of 14 feet – up from 13 feet 6 inches.

A separate House bill covers dump trucks. HB4785 would require vehicles equipped with dump bodies to include visual and audible warning signals in the cab.

If approved, the signal must be “activated when the dump body is unlatched, unsecured or is in an upright or elevated position.”

Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island, wrote in the bill that “the visual device must be located within the driver’s view and the audible warning must be distinct from other audible warnings in the cab.”

Another House bill would clarify a portion of the state’s concealed carry law. HB4682 would make clear that it is not against the law to carry a concealed firearm on the premises of a DOT rest area.

One more bill that may evoke memories of a scene from the ’80s flick “Back to the Future” would prohibit clinging to vehicles. HB5484 would forbid people from using a scooter, moped, inline skates or themselves to attach to any vehicle on the state’s roadways.

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