Oklahoma bills call for changes to multiple truck rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, April 06, 2015

Oklahoma lawmakers are moving forward with bills to change rules that cover weigh stations, truck enforcement officers, overweight trucks, and truck instructors and examiners.

The House State Government Operations Committee voted on Wednesday, April 1, to advance one bill that would require the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to suspend any new construction of any fixed port of entry weigh station until a study is done that would standardize the size and weight enforcement authority between the Department of Public Safety, the Corporation Commission, and local law enforcement.

State DOT estimates put the cost associated with the study at about $250,000 to evaluate the ports of entry and overweight truck enforcement.

SB320 awaits further consideration in the House. If approved, it would move back to the Senate for approval of changes.

A separate bill halfway through the statehouse would transfer up to 60 certified motor carrier enforcement officers from the commission to the Department of Public Safety.

The bill is in the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. Senate lawmakers already approved SB391 on a 41-2 vote.

House lawmakers voted 70-12 to advance another bill that covers overweight truck limits.

Oklahoma law now requires vehicles transporting certain aggregates, oilfield equipment, or other raw agricultural products to purchase an annual special overload permit from the commission for $100.

SB638 would require affected loads to pay a $350 overload permit fee to the Department of Public Safety. The revenue would be used to support the state highway construction and maintenance fund.

According to state figures, 2,487 permits were issued in 2014. If the fee amount is changed, revenue for 2015 is estimated to increase to $870,450 – up from $621,750 one year ago.

The bill now heads back to the Senate for consideration of changes. If approved, it would move to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk for her signature. If lawmakers fail to reach agreement, a conference committee would be formed to work out differences.

Another Senate-approved bill directs the Department of Public Safety to develop and implement a pilot program to evaluate the potential use of certified commercial driver education instructors and examiners by private business in the state.

Businesses with an employee or person applying to be a designated instructor or examiner would be required to pay an initial fee of $5,000.

Individuals applying to be a designated instructor or examiner would be responsible for paying an initial certification fee of $1,000. An annual fee of $500 would also be required.

SB411 is in the House Public Safety Committee.

One more bill in the committee adds operating a large truck while using a hand-held cellphone as a “serious traffic offense” under Oklahoma law subject to loss of commercial driving privileges.

Punishment for violations of out-of-service orders would also be extended to 180 days – up from 90 days in current law. Repeat offenses within 10 years would result in loss of driving privileges for two years – up from one year.

The Senate already approved SB183 on a 44-2 vote.

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

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