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State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

ARIZONA

Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed a bill that was intended to quash police ticket quotas. HB2410 called for prohibiting law enforcement agencies at the local, county and state level from requiring officers to issue a certain number of citations within a specific time period. Ducey said in his veto message he was concerned the bill would prevent police chiefs from “objectively gauging performance in their departments.”

IOWA

Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law a bill that is intended to help make Iowa DOT snow plows more visible while out on the road. DOT snow plows now are permitted to use only flashing amber lights. SF75 permits the agency to study adding flashing blue and white lights. Federal research funds are expected to cover 80 percent of the costs involved.

LOUISIANA

Multiple bills cover revenue for roads. HB712 would increase the state’s fuel tax rate by 4 cents per gallon. The new revenue would be routed to the Parish Transportation Fund for local road projects.

HB639 would permit parishes to levy an excise tax on fuel. Revenue would be dedicated exclusively for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.

MONTANA

Gov. Steve Bullock signed into law a bill to authorize the Montana DOT to raise the speed limit for cars to 80 mph on non-urban stretches of interstate – up from 75. Trucks would be kept at their current 65 mph speed limit.

NEW MEXICO

Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law a bill to extend the overweight zone at the three ports of entry on the state’s border with Mexico. SB52 extends the zone from six miles to 12 miles for loads with a gross weight up to 96,000 pounds. An exception forbids the extension of the overweight zone to roads east of Santa Teresa.

Another new law directly affects truck drivers. SB95 specifies that police who believe the weight of a vehicle and load is in violation of rules would be forbidden from requiring a driver to weigh the vehicle on a private scale.

The governor, however, vetoed a bill that sought to authorize counties and municipalities to set an additional tax on diesel purchases of up to 2 cents per gallon. The state’s six largest counties already have the tax authority. SB114 called for giving voters in the other 27 counties authority to approve the local tax.

NORTH CAROLINA

One Senate bill would allow owner-operators leased to motor carriers in the state to get occupational accident insurance as an alternative to worker’s compensation. Under S205, owner-operators would remain eligible for coverage under a motor carrier’s worker’s compensation coverage without affecting the owner-operator’s independent contractor status, as long as an owner-operator and motor carrier reach agreement.

NORTH DAKOTA

Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law a bill that allows police to remove any property or cargo from a vehicle that is blocking the roadway “or otherwise endangering public safety.” SB2352 exempts police and DOT personnel from any liability for damage to a vehicle or its load as long as “reasonable care” was used in the removal process. It takes effect Aug. 1.

OREGON

Gov. Kate Brown signed into law a bill that makes permanent the state’s low-carbon fuel standard in place since 2009. The clean-fuels program was scheduled to sunset later this year before it could be implemented. Previously SB324, the new law requires oil and gas distributors of most fuels sold in Oregon to lower their carbon content, or “intensity,” by 10 percent over the next decade.

RHODE ISLAND

Indemnification clauses in trucking contracts are the subject of one House bill. H6111 would outlaw provisions in contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence and make them “void and unenforceable.”

TEXAS

A bill nearing passage would establish cargo theft as a specific offense and impose escalating fines and punishment based on the value of goods. SB1828 defines offenders as anyone who “knowingly or intentionally conducts, promotes, or facilitates an activity” involving the receipt, possession, concealment, storage, sale, or abandonment of stolen cargo.

VIRGINIA

One new law authorizes permitted overheight vehicles to have a single-axle weight up to 24,000 pounds, a tandem-axle weight up to 40,000 pounds, and a tri-axle grouping weight up to 50,000 pounds. Any five-axle tractor-trailer with a minimum of 48 feet between the first and last axle will also be authorized to have a gross weight up to

90,000 pounds. Four-axle combos could weigh up to 70,000 pounds and three-axle combos could weigh as much as 60,000 pounds. Fees for permits will be set at $130. HB2072 takes effect July 1.

WASHINGTON

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that calls for widening the speed differential between cars and trucks along stretches of highway after he added a requirement for the state DOT to consult with other state agencies “to assess whether the speed limit could be increased without any compromise in safety.”

HB2181 could result in car speeds increasing from 70 to 75 mph while truck speeds remain unchanged at 60.

WYOMING

Gov. Matt Mead signed a bill into law permitting the state DOT to raise the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on portions of state highways that are deemed to be able to handle the higher speed limit. LL