Louisiana lawmakers have wrapped up their work for the year but not before sending bills to the governor that focus on clearing roads, veterans getting behind the wheel of a truck and certain truck warranty repairs.
One bill that swept through the statehouse without a “no” vote covers removing debris or vehicles along certain highways following wrecks or other incidents.
Sponsored by Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, the bill would permit law enforcement to remove any vehicle, cargo or other property damaged or spilled along roadways in the state and federal highway system which could cause a hazard or obstruct traffic. The vehicle owner’s consent would not be necessary.
During rush hour periods, law enforcement would be required to take “immediate action” to keep all lanes of traffic open. The peak travel times are defined as from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Sen. Erdey said the peak time provision is necessary to avoid waiting on tow trucks to arrive and the additional traffic backups that result.
“We don’t want to be calling in tow and recovery to come in and tie up additional lanes of traffic to do their thing when we have so many people, including truck traffic, backed up for miles during these particular hours,” Erdey testified during a Senate committee hearing. “We simply want to get them out of the way so we can free up traffic immediately.”
SB661 awaits Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature.
A separate bill already signed into law would make it easier for veterans to get back to work driving truck. It takes effect Aug. 1.
Service personnel returning from duty will be allowed to exchange their military CDL for a state-issued CDL without requiring a driving test. However, to be eligible applicants must have at least two years of experience driving a military commercial vehicle “immediately preceding” the application for a CDL or provide proof they were regularly employed within the past 90 days in a military position requiring operation of a commercial vehicle.
Rep. Andy Anders, D-Vidalia, said veterans brought the issue to his attention in the middle of corn season.
“We’ve just been bombarded by trying to find trucks to haul 200 bushel corn out of there,” he testified.
Previously HB1005, the new law also aids Louisiana meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act and MAP-21.
Jindal vetoed another bill that sought to change the rule on warranty work for certain large trucks.
Louisiana law requires all warranty repairs on vehicles to be performed by a dealer.
SB318 called for allowing fleet owners of at least 12,000-pound trucks to perform their own warranty repairs. However, it prohibited fleet owners from making repairs to a vehicle’s internal drive train or the after-treatment exhaust system.
Supporters said the bill would help fleet owners avoid the downtime associated with waiting for dealers to make needed repairs.
The governor said in his veto message that once the bill was approved at the statehouse he heard from lawmakers in both chambers who “expressed concerns about the unintended consequences” of provisions in the bill that they were not aware of when they approved it.
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