Illinois bills cover truck tows, base plates, HOS violations

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, February 26, 2015

Multiple bills in Illinois cover issues of interest to truckers. One legislative push would put limits in place on nonconsensual tows of large trucks.

Three House and Senate lawmakers are pursuing a rule change that would prohibit towers from removing a commercial vehicle under the vehicle’s own power without authorization from law enforcement.

The Senate has voted unanimously two years running in favor of the change, however, it has failed to get much attention in the House. Bill sponsors are hopeful that the Legislature will sign off on the change this year. Three bills are up for consideration to 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.

Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, has 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 previously told Land Line. “My legislation says you cannot use a master key to move a vehicle unless you have permission from law enforcement.”

The bills are HB358, SB674 and SB1441.

A separate issue of interest would allow truckers with Illinois base plates to keep more money in their pockets.

Four state lawmakers from both sides of the statehouse are 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.

Truckers say the fee amounts to a tax on a tax.

The bills are HB371, HB387, SB662 and SB1691.

Another bill addresses concerns about hours-of-service violations. Sen. Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst, introduced a bill that would upgrade the offense of “willfully” exceeding allowable hours behind the wheel.

Violations that result in serious injury or death to another person would be upgraded from a Class 4 felony to a Class 3 felony. As a result, offenders would face up to five years in prison – up from a maximum of three years behind bars.

“Any person other than the driver” who willfully violates regulations pertaining to HOS rules would face a Class 2 felony. The offense could result in up to seven years in prison if a violation results in serious injury or death to another person.

The bill, SB1582, is in the Senate Assignments Committee.

The state’s rest areas are the topic of more bills.

Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, and Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Rock Island, are behind bills to clarify a portion of the state’s concealed carry law. HB481 and SB1423 would make clear that it is not against the law for a concealed carry licensee to carry a weapon on the premises of a DOT rest area.

One more bill urges the Illinois Department of Transportation to include healthy, Illinois-made snacks in rest area vending machines.

“This legislation will offer healthier snacking options to travelers, while giving us the chance to showcase our Illinois products,” Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, said in a news release.

House Joint Resolution 29 would encourage IDOT to stock at least three snacks containing less than 220 calories for every 10 snacks that are offered in vending machines. Two of the three healthy snacks would need to be made in the state.

Illinois operates 30 rest areas and 11 welcome centers along roadways.

“Anyone who has done much traveling knows how hard it can be to eat healthy while on the road.”

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