Missouri bills on the move cover liability, certain truck weights

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, March 23, 2015

Missouri state lawmakers are moving forward with changes to various rules that affect truck drivers.

The Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee voted to advance one bill to remove joint and several liability from Missouri law and replace it with a “several only” liability provision.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said the bill would provide more fairness to the legal process for individuals involved in tort actions in the state.

“The change would hold all defendants in a tort action liable for damages they are determined to have caused – nothing more, nothing less,” Matousek said.

Sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, SB140 would also outline a formula to be used for determining the amount of judgment to be entered against each defendant. In addition, it would require anyone determining facts in a case to consider the fault of defendants not part of the suit, and limit the liability of a defendant from the actions or fault of a nonparty.

The bill awaits further consideration in the Senate.

A separate bill would expand the height and weight limits for trucks in central Missouri.

Currently, the area’s commercial zone extends north from the city of Columbia along U.S. 63 for eight miles and east from the city limits along state Route WW to the intersection of state Route J and continues south on state Route J for eight miles.

Vehicles operating within the zone are prohibited from being in excess of 15 feet in height or having a weight greater than 22,400 pounds on one axle.

Sponsored by Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, the bill would add Boone County to the municipal commercial zone for the city of Columbia. The zone would be extended north on U.S. 63 to state Route NN and west and south along state Route NN to state Route 124. The municipal commercial zone would also include state Route 124 from state Route NN to U.S. 63.

SB272 is in the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.

Another effort halfway through the statehouse is intended to make Missouri farmers more competitive with those in neighboring states. House lawmakers voted to advance to the Senate a bill that addresses livestock and agriculture haulers.

Currently, milk haulers weighing up to 85,500 pounds on the way to processing facilities are authorized to use all state highways except interstates. Livestock haulers, however, are limited to 80,000 pounds.

HB388 would boost allowable weights for livestock haulers up to 85,500 pounds.

Grain haulers transporting loads during harvest would also be authorized to exceed maximum allowable weight limits by up to 10 percent on state highways that do not include interstates.

Officials from the Missouri Department of Transportation say the increased allowable weights would result in more wear and tear to highways and bridges. According to a fiscal note on the bill, MoDOT reports the change would necessitate an annual expense of at least $100,000.

One more provision in the bill permits local log trucks to transport harvested forest products within a 200-mile radius of the forested site – up from a 100-mile radius in existing law.

The bill is in the Senate Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri, click here.

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