OOIDA State Watch

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

CALIFORNIA

Three new laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown are of interest. AB1222 targets "bandit tow truck drivers." The law requires all tow operators to maintain documents showing that they are summoned to or flagged down at the scene of an accident or disabled vehicle.

The new law also requires tow truck drivers to provide customers with a detailed estimate of charges and services to be performed before attaching the disabled vehicle to the tow truck. Towing and storage fees are also capped.

Violators would face $2,500 fines and/or up to 90 days in jail.

SB34 puts in place rules on the use of technology used to track drivers' movements through automated license plate readers, or ALPRs.

Entities in California using ALPRs are required to adopt privacy policies and post the information online. A requirement is also in place to set policies on use and for how long data can be kept. In addition, logs must be kept to keep track of each instance the license data is accessed, and the purpose.

SB178 requires law enforcement agencies to get warrants before accessing information that includes emails, text messages and GPS data included on such devices as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Law enforcement is permitted to gain access to a mobile device without a warrant when waiting for permission to search could put people at risk.

FLORIDA

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, has filed a bill for the 2016 regular session to repeal the rule that authorizes the use of automated cameras to ticket drivers. Since 2010, localities around the state have been authorized to post red-light cameras at intersections. Violators face $158 fines. SB168 can be considered during the session that begins in March 2016.

ILLINOIS

One new law prohibits towers from removing a commercial vehicle under the vehicle's own power without authorization from law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies are also required to maintain at least one tow rotation list. Towers found to be soliciting business at wreck or disablement scenes would face fines and suspension. In addition, truck drivers arriving on the scene while a tow is in progress must be able to get the truck and/or trailer disconnected as long as they pay up to one-half of the posted rates. SB1441 takes effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, is the sponsor of a lengthy bill that includes a provision to do away with a tax break available to truckers. Specifically, HB4300 would repeal the existing "rolling stock" sales tax exemption for qualified purchases, such as trucks, trailers and tires. The exemption would end on June 30, 2016.

NEVADA

Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law a bill to authorize state and local police to wear body camera devices while on duty. Effective Jan. 1, 2016, AB162 also requires departments to adopt policies and procedures governing the use of body-worn cameras.

NEW JERSEY

A new law prohibits provisions in trucking contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence and make them "void and unenforceable." Affected contracts are defined as "a contract, agreement, or understanding" between a motor carrier and a shipper covering the transportation of property for hire by the motor carrier, entry on property to load, unload, or transport property, including the storage of property. S1380 takes effect Nov. 1, 2016.

OREGON

Gov. Kate Brown signed three bills of interest into law. Starting March 1, 2016, HB3402 authorizes increased speed limits for personal vehicles and trucks on rural sections of Central and Eastern Oregon highways. Affected stretches include:

  • Interstate 84 east of The Dalles:
  • 70 mph for cars and 65 mph for trucks.
  • U.S. 95 between the Idaho and Nevada lines: 70 mph for cars and 65 mph for trucks.
  • U.S. 20 between Bend and Ontario and on state Highway 26 between John Day and Vale: 65 mph for cars and 60 mph for trucks.
  • U.S. 97 and state Highway 197 between The Dalles and Klamath Falls: 65 mph for cars and 60 mph for trucks.

HB2621 authorizes the city of Portland to operate fixed photo radar on "high-crash urban corridors." The program can run 24 hours a day and does not require police presence.

HB2571 requires police agencies that choose to equip police officers with body cameras to establish policies and procedures for retaining records. Footage is exempt from release to the public unless a court determines the release of footage is in the public interest.

PENNSYLVANIA

Two bills halfway through the statehouse cover reform at the Delaware River Port Authority. SB286 would prohibit the bi-state agency from engaging in economic development activity. Other changes include forcing the agency to comply with ethics and public records laws. In addition, a two-thirds majority of commissioners would need to sign off on any toll increase.

SB287 would give the Pennsylvania governor veto power over actions of the Authority board.

House lawmakers voted to advance a bill to the Senate to require an annual financial and management audit of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission by the Pennsylvania auditor general and his New Jersey counterpart. HB813 would also give the governor 10 days to invoke veto power over any actions by an individual commissioner.

Another House-approved bill would remove the requirement that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission must provide for the installation and maintenance of emergency telephones every two miles on both sides of the highway. HB1335 would not mandate that the program end, but it would allow the commission to move forward with "call box" removal at their discretion.

One Senate-approved bill would toughen penalties for distracted or aggressive driving in construction zones. SB887 specifies that highway users driving carelessly in work zones would face fines and penalties in excess of $1,000. In addition to other punishment, offenders who endanger or kill highway workers face fines up to $10,000 and loss of driving privileges for one year.

WASHINGTON

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a 16-year, $15 billion transportation package that includes a nearly 12-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase. A separate part of the package, SB5995, adds "congestion relief and improved freight mobility" to the state's transportation goals.

WISCONSIN

At press time, leading Democrats at the statehouse are calling for Gov. Scott Walker to take immediate action to address much-needed funding for transportation projects and infrastructure needs across the state. State lawmakers want the Republican governor to call the Legislature into special session to authorize additional funding for road construction and repairs.

An Assembly bill, AB330, would eliminate spending for installation of highway on-ramp gates, digital message boards and traffic cameras. LL