News
State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

We know you don’t have time to keep up with all of the bills being considered that affect your trucking business. That’s why your Association keeps a close watch on legislative action in statehouses near you.

On this page you will find a roundup of some significant actions from around the country.

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

COLORADO
Two new laws are of interest to truckers. HB1065 outlaws provisions in truck contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence and would invalidate them.

SB7 provides counties affected by last fall’s floods more wiggle room in their budgeting to repair roads and bridges. Effective immediately, county commissioners can use general funds for road and bridge work following declared disaster emergencies.

CONNECTICUT
A bill on the move would tweak the criteria in granting certification of household goods carriers. SB34 would remove the provision that gives potential competitors a say in whether a business is approved.

FLORIDA
Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill to save owners a few bucks in vehicle fees. SB156 will trim about $400 million from the fees and surcharges applied to license plate purchases, replacement or transfers and vehicle registration. The law will take effect Sept. 1.

A Senate bill could increase the posted speed limit on highways for all vehicles to as much as 75 mph. SB392 would give the Florida DOT the final say on any changes. The agency would be required to decide where it would be “safe and advisable” to increase the speed limit.

INDIANA
Two new laws are of note to truckers. HB1002 releases $200 million from the state’s general fund for major highway projects. INDOT is proposing to use the money for projects that include adding lanes to Interstates 65, 69 and 70 in certain areas. Another $200 million could be tapped by state lawmakers next year when working on the new two-year budget.

HB1104 requires the state DOT to contract with a third party to study alternative funding options to pay for maintaining state highways. At the conclusion of the study, the agency will then consider implementing a voluntary pilot program on one or more of the funding options.

KENTUCKY
Gov. Steve Beshear signed a bill into law that forbids indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. SB59 prevents truck drivers from being obligated to pay any claim that may arise from a contract, regardless of fault.

LOUISIANA
Four House bills cover the use of ticket cameras. HB859 would require automated ticketing programs to extend the “yellow time” at posted intersections to six seconds. HB801 would prohibit automated tickets from being sent to drivers speeding less than 10 mph over the posted limit. HB631 would require traffic offenders to be issued a ticket on the spot, instead of getting it in the mail. HB499 would require voters to sign off on posting red-light cameras in intersections.

MARYLAND
A new law includes a provision to increase the incentive to get truck drivers to stop idling. SB72 increases the state’s 400-pound APU exemption to 550 pounds.

MINNESOTA
Described as a potential big blow to independent contractors, including owner-operators, HF2742 would implement 12 conditions for truckers to meet in order to maintain their independent status.

MISSOURI
House lawmakers have approved two measures. HJR68 would ask voters to impose a 10-year, 1-cent general sales tax to benefit transportation projects. A protection would be 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 without voter approval and it would prohibit charging tolls on existing roadways.

HB1388 would prohibit a governmental entity from obtaining location information of an electronic device without a search warrant. Violators would face $50 fines.

NEBRASKA
Gov. Dave Heineman signed a bill into law that increases the mandatory-minimum penalty for manure, and urine spills in certain instances. Penalties for spills from livestock trucks that occur in urban areas would increase from a minimum of $100 to a minimum of $250. LB174 routes revenue from fines to public schools in the affected county.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
The Senate voted to send a bill to the House that would increase the state’s 18-cent-per-gallon fuel tax by 4 cents to 22 cents starting in July. If approved by the House, SB367 would move to Gov. Maggie Hassan’s desk. She has said she would sign it into law.

House lawmakers signed off on a bill that would extend collection of the state’s fuel tax to vehicles that use alternative fuels. HB1142 would mostly apply the tax to commercial and government fleets making the switch to natural gas and propane.

NEW MEXICO
A new law gives prospective commercial drivers more chances to pass testing. SB41 specifies that applicants can retake the knowledge portion of the test twice per week. State law previously limited applicants to three exams per year. The skills test will continue to be offered up to three times annually.

OHIO
The Senate voted unanimously to advance a bill to the House that would make sure that trucking operations and other businesses in the state get any available tax refunds. SB263 would require the Ohio Department of Taxation to notify businesses in the state when they overpay their taxes and provide automatic refunds in the form of credits toward future taxes.

OKLAHOMA
A provision added to this year’s education funding bill, HB2642, would require ODOT to give up half of the $59.7 million each year coming from income tax collections. Instead, $29.8 million each year would go to public schools until they are receiving $600 million more per year.

RHODE ISLAND
The General Assembly approved a bill to continue the 10-cent toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge until May 15. House and Senate lawmakers voted last July to impose a 10-cent toll for all users until lawmakers could come up with “a predictable statewide funding source” for roads and bridges.

SOUTH DAKOTA
Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a bill into law that address concerns about ticket cameras posted along roadways in other states. HB1122 prohibits information about South Dakota drivers from being shared for the collection of civil fines that result from camera tickets.

Also signed into law is HB1100. It prohibits communities from partnering with photo ticketing companies to access necessary information to send red-light and speed camera tickets for alleged violations.

TENNESSEE
A new law instructs law enforcement to steer clear of certain checkpoints. SB1485 prohibits state and local police from participating in traffic checkpoints done by federal contractors.

UTAH
Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill into law to restrict the use of equipment that allows law enforcement to track the movements of anyone nearby with a cellphone. HB128 requires police to get a search warrant before obtaining information from an electronic device.

Also signed into law is a bill, SB222, allowing private companies, such as repossession companies, as well as law enforcement, to snap pictures of license plates along roadways or in parking lots and store them for as long as they like. However, state agencies couldn’t buy them from any businesses that keep them for longer than 30 days.

VIRGINIA
Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill to permit drivers found in violation at photo-monitored intersections to appeal to the circuit courts. McAuliffe said he doesn’t want “cases of limited financial impact” bottlenecking the system.

WISCONSIN
Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill to take advantage of an unexpected surplus of $83 million in the state transportation fund. AB704 increases spending by $43 million this year on 11 projects around the state. The allocation leaves the fund with a $40 million surplus at the end of two years. LL