State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

We know you don’t have time to keep up with all the legislative action. That’s why your Association keeps a close watch on action for you.

Here you will find a midsummer roundup of some significant action from around the country.

For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit and click on “Legislative Watch” under the “Important Info” tab.

Two bills of note are halfway through the statehouse. SB1077 would establish a pilot program in the state to assess the feasibility of taxing truckers and other drivers based on vehicle miles traveled.

SB828 would prohibit state agencies, officials and corporations that provide services to the state from assisting the federal government to collect electronic data or metadata on citizens without a warrant.

Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill that would increase disclosures, oversight and public input on public-private partnership deals. SB197 would also limit P3 deals to 35 years. The governor said the constraints on business terms sought in the bill “would create a chilling component on future transactions, making investors unlikely or unwilling to bid on Colorado projects due to the increased risks this process would generate.”

Starting Aug. 6, the fine for drivers of large vehicles who illegally attempt to cross Independence Pass will increase from $500 to $2,000. Violations that result in closures on state Highway 82 between U.S. 24 and the city of Aspen would increase the fine to $2,500.

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that authorized the Florida DOT to decide whether it would be “safe and advisable” to increase the speed limit on highways for all vehicles to as much as 75 mph.

Gov. Butch Otter signed into law a bill that taps into cigarette tax revenue to pay off $130 million in bonds on the statehouse renovation. Once the project is paid in full, revenue from the state’s 56-cent-per-pack tax will be applied to road work. Some funds from the $40 million yearly tax collection will also be applied to water projects.

A new law forbids any requirement from law enforcement “to issue a specific number of citations within a designated period of time.” SB3411 also prohibits agencies from evaluating personnel based on the number of tickets written or arrests made. The city of Chicago is exempt from the requirements.

Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that prohibits automated enforcement cameras along interstates. Currently, the devices are not used along interstates in the state. HB896 would make an exception for work zones run by the Louisiana DOTD.

Two new laws are of note. SB72 increases the incentive to get truck drivers to stop idling. As of Oct. 1, the law increases the state’s 400-pound APU exemption to 550 pounds.

SB350 overhauls how localities do business with ticket camera companies. Specifically, speed camera operators can no longer get a cut of each ticket issued. The process will also be simplified for cities to get out of contracts with companies that have high error rates.

Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a five-year, $12.7 billion transportation bond bill. H4046 also includes $300 million in local road repair funds, which are divided among municipalities based on a formula.

A House bill amended in the Senate would effectively increase the state’s 19-cent-per-gallon gas tax by 10 cents and double the state’s 15-cent diesel tax rate. The rate changes sought in HB5477 would kick in Jan. 1, 2015. During the next three years the tax rates would gradually increase until reaching about 46 cents per gallon in 2018. House lawmakers previously voted to replace the excise taxes with a 6 percent wholesale tax, which would allow tax collections to increase with inflation.

One new law directs about $100 million to be used for treating potholes and other winter-related upkeep. The remaining $115 million is earmarked for priority construction projects that begin by July 1.

Gov. Mark Dayton put his signature on a bill to require law enforcement and state agencies to show probable cause before securing a warrant to tap into cellphone tracking data.

State lawmakers voted to include two questions of note on upcoming ballots. The August primary ballot will include a question about whether to impose a three-fourths-cent general sales tax for roads and other transportation programs. If approved, a protection is included to prevent revenue from the tax being diverted away from transportation. State lawmakers would also be prohibited from increasing the state’s fuel tax rate and prohibited from charging highway users to drive on existing roadways without voter approval.

On the fall ballot, voters will decide whether to expand constitutional safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures to include “electronic communications and data.”

Assembly lawmakers advanced a bill that would direct the Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority to study and report on additional opportunities to make money along the state’s three toll highways by providing new and better services at rest areas and welcome centers. A801 would permit services that could include business, commercial or retail.

One Senate bill addresses the status of professional drivers classified as independent contractors. S2033 would exempt owner-operators from employment laws for purposes of unemployment insurance and taxes, as long as they meet conditions related to federal licensing and leasing regulations, lease purchase and form 1099 reporting.

The Senate voted to advance a bill that would dole out significant punishment for people who commit or assist in staged wrecks. S3547 would make it a crime to stage an accident with intent to commit insurance fraud. The felony crime would be punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Awaiting the governor’s signature is a bill that would use toll taxes to pay off reconstruction of the Brent Spence Bridge. HB533 would authorize the state to enter into an agreement with Kentucky and a private group to construct, operate and finance Ohio’s segment of the bridge.

A House-approved bill covers concerns about predatory towing. HB382 includes provisions that would cap towing and storage fees, require that tow companies inform people of their rights, provide a 24-hour grace period for vehicle storage fees, and limit how far a vehicle can be towed. Storage facilities would also be required to release a vehicle within three hours of receiving a phone call from the vehicle owner.

As of Nov. 1, a new law removes a loophole for state troopers in the Oklahoma Open Records Act. HB2676 ensures dash-cam video recorded by state troopers will be included in the state’s open records law.

A three-bill package that is halfway through the statehouse would give the state more oversight of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. HB620 would require an annual financial and management audit of the commission by Pennsylvania’s auditor general and his New Jersey counterpart. HB619 would allow for gubernatorial veto of actions by the commission. HB621 would give the governor 10 days to invoke veto power over any actions by an individual commissioner.

One new law adds highway maintenance equipment while at work to the list of protected vehicles under the state’s “Move Over” law.

A new law authorizes the state DOT to make sponsorship signs available at rest stops to help defray costs related to highway related services. HB152 also authorizes UDOT to sell banner ads for its online traffic application.

There are two new laws of note. HB771 requires drivers at age 75 – down from 80 – to appear for an in-person license renewal with a vision test. It also requires license renewals every five years instead of every eight years under current law. A course in crash prevention will also be made available in lieu of sentences for driving offenses.

HB2 prioritizes money allocated in then-Gov. Bob McDonnell’s five-year, $6 billion transportation funding plan approved a year ago. The state is required to set a prioritization model for determining which transportation projects will first get attention.

A new law expands the types of vehicles covered under the state’s existing “Move Over” law to include public utility vehicles. LL