Wisconsin laws cover interstate, intrastate operations and single-trip permits

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, April 15, 2016

A mix of new rules approved by Wisconsin lawmakers cover size and weight limits on select stretches of interstate, intrastate operations and single-trip permits.

Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a bill relating to the size and weight limits of vehicles accessing the Interstate 39 and 41 corridors. Previously AB558, the new law clarifies and implements federal weight grandfathering provisions for both corridors.

The I-41 corridor was officially designated as an interstate highway in April 2015.

Federal law prohibits motor vehicles from exceeding specified weight limits on interstate highways, except where an exemption exists for specified portions of highway.

Wisconsin law grandfathers in the highway that was formerly U.S. 41 as the I-41 corridor.

Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, said the new law also modifies the rule for the grandfathered portion of I-39 as the I-39 corridor. The affected stretch is defined as the portion of highway between I-94 near the city of Portage and state Highway 29 south of the city of Wausau.

Another change incorporates new grandfathering language that was included in the recently passed federal transportation bill. The change allows the state to permit logging vehicles operating up to 98,000 pounds on six axles to operate on a portion of the I-39 corridor.

Tom Rhatican, WisDOT assistant deputy secretary, said the new law will ensure the state’s conformity with existing federal regulations affecting vehicle weight limits on interstate highways is continued, and help support the continued growth of the state’s economy and freight transport in Wisconsin.

A separate new law covers motor carriers operating intrastate.

Previously AB424, the law extends the existing regulations that apply to motor carriers operating in interstate commerce to carriers also engaged in intrastate commerce. Specifically, the law provides that the certificates and licenses required to operate as an interstate carrier are also required for intrastate carriers.

Another new law allows WisDOT to issue a single-trip permit for the transport of radiological materials.

AB426 includes a rule for permits to include a designated route to be used by the applicant and a requirement for a state traffic patrol escort.

The DOT must notify local officials if an applicant’s proposed route includes a highway under the jurisdiction of a local authority.

Permit fees will be $1,800.

Additionally, an applicant for a permit must provide proof that the driver operating a vehicle under a permit has a valid commercial driver’s license.

Single-trip permits are the subject of another new law. SB372 requires the permit for movement of oversize mobile homes, manufactured homes, and factory-built homes in excess of 16 feet in width. Affected loads are to be issued permits by the state DOT, for the use of state trunk highways, and by the local highway authority, for the use of other highways.

According to a fiscal estimate, additional stresses on existing bridges and pavement are identified as possibly diminishing the life of the bridge or accelerating the deterioration of the infrastructure.

One bill awaiting the governor’s signature would provide a sales and use tax exemption for federal excise tax collected on the sale of heavy trucks or trailers.

Wisconsin law now includes the federal excise tax of 12 percent in the sales price of large trucks and trailers subject to the state’s sales tax. A sales and use tax exemption is available for the purchase of trucks sold to common or contract carriers who use the vehicle exclusively as a common or contract carrier.

Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, said the bill would eliminate a double tax that is unequally applied to the sale of large trucks and trailers in the state.

“Wisconsin’s tax code currently allows the federal excise tax to be applied to the sale of heavy trucks and trailers before sales tax is applied,” Bernier said in previous testimony. “That essentially creates a tax on a tax.”

AB629 has a retroactive effective date of Sept. 1, 2014. The date corresponds with a state Department of Revenue rule change, which removed the federal excise tax on large trucks from the list of taxes excluded from sales price.

According to a fiscal estimate, sales tax collections subject to refund claims would be $471,000. Local governments are estimated to take a $35,000 hit in tax revenues.

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

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