OOIDA State Watch

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

ARKANSAS

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law two bills of note. HB1754 would permit truck platooning. The new law also revises state law that covers the minimum requirements for vehicle following distances. State law mandates a minimum of 200 feet between vehicles traveling on highways.

HB2057 puts the state’s uniform speed rule into statute. Additionally, all vehicles are authorized to travel at 75 mph – up from 70. Other highways can be posted at 65 mph for all vehicles – up from 60 mph. Before any speed limit increase takes effect, the state Highway and Transportation Department must complete engineering studies to determine which stretches of roadway can accommodate faster travel.

CALIFORNIA

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a 10-year, $52 billion transportation funding deal. The package includes a mix of higher taxes and fees. Effective Nov. 1, 2017, the excise rate on gas will increase by 12 cents to 39.8 cents. The diesel rate will jump from 20 cents to 36 cents. The gas rate will increase another 7.5 cents in July 2019. The excise rates on gas and diesel will also be adjusted for inflation beginning in July 2020. Also on Nov. 1, the

1.75 percent sales tax applied to diesel purchases will be increased to 5.75 percent.

ILLINOIS

House lawmakers approved a bill that covers the length limits on some state roadways. Illinois law now authorizes trucks up to 65 feet to access state highways. The limit is capped at 55 feet on county and township roads. HB683 would allow 65-foot truck lengths on all state roadways.

KENTUCKY

Gov. Matt Bevin has signed into law a bill that covers the transportation of farm equipment. State law now requires large equipment that includes farm tractors to have outer wheels removed from the axles and transported separately. HB265 expands the state’s definition of non-divisible loads to include transportation of farm equipment.

Another new law permits trucks hauling aluminum, or other metal commodities, to weigh 50 percent more. Effective July 1, 2020, loads will be authorized to weigh up to 120,000 pounds. Single trip permits are set at $100. Annual permits will be $1,250. Steel products or materials are also permitted to weigh up to 120,000 pounds for up to 150-mile trips. Annual permits will be set at $250. A separate provision in HB184 covers vehicle haulers. Affected vehicles will be allowed a 14-foot height limit.

LOUISIANA

At least five bills introduced at the statehouse would raise the state’s fuel tax by at least 7 cents. One bill would increase the 20-cent tax rate by 17 cents. The increase is expected to raise $510 million annually for roads and bridges. HB632 would also index to inflation fuel rates to allow for increases in future years.

MONTANA

A new law raises the state’s 27-cent gas tax and 27.75-cent diesel tax. Specifically, HB473 increases the gas rate by 4.5 cents on July 1 and another 1.5 cents by 2023. The diesel rate goes up 1.5 cents July 1 and another one-half cent over six years.

NEW JERSEY

One new law appropriates $400 million from the state’s Transportation Trust Fund to pay for immediate road and bridge repair projects. Previously S3076, the new law includes $260 million over three months for road and bridge repairs across the state. The other $140 million is allotted for transit work.

OHIO

Two efforts are of note. HB155/SB114 would provide a tax credit to motor carriers for eligible training expenses for prospective drivers. The tax credit would be capped at $3 million annually with the amount allotted to a single employer set at $50,000.

HB154 would create a commercial truck driver student aid program for eligible students enrolled at a certified CDL school or career college. Financial aid would be authorized via a grant or loan. The state would adopt conditional rules for loans received by the program and requirements for certification of CDL schools. A total of $5 million would be appropriated to support the student aid program.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed into law a bill that covers protests that shut down roadways. SB176 sets punishment at 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fines for blocking traffic. Previously, the state could punish offenders with 30 days in jail and/or $500 fines. The change took effect with the governor’s signature.

TENNESSEE

A new law revises the state’s following distance rule. SB676 also permits the state to come up with rules for platooning and to implement a pilot program.

Effective July 1, another new law covers protests that shut down highways. SB902 increases the fine for obstructing a roadway to $200 – up from $50 – for any incident that impedes an emergency vehicle from responding to an emergency.

TEXAS

The Senate voted to advance a bill to authorize an increase in truck weights for tractor-trailers hauling intermodal shipping containers. SB1524 would allow six-axle combinations with a gross vehicle weight up to 100,000 pounds. The loads would be subject to various axle configurations. The loads would also have to begin or end at a port-of-entry and could not exceed a 30-mile radius. LL