State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

As the new legislative year approaches, OOIDA is focused on providing truckers with information on important legislation during the coming year. In the next few months, state lawmakers from all corners of the country will rapidly add to the list by offering new bills.

Not all of them will be covered on these pages, but readers will be able to find many bills of significance to their trucking business. Here’s our roundup of noteworthy issues that governors have acted on in recent weeks and the latest activity on other notable efforts.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law prohibiting state agencies, officials and corporations that provide services to the state from supporting or assisting the federal government to collect electronic data or metadata on citizens without a warrant. Previously SB828, the new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2015.

A new law limits the circumstances that law enforcement can use information collected from cellphones. SB2808 allows law enforcement to capture cellphone data only after obtaining a court order based on probable cause of a crime. It took effect immediately.

The Senate approved an amended bill to repeal the state’s per-gallon tax rate on gas and diesel. In exchange, the state’s excise taxes would be replaced on April 1, 2015, with a 9.5 percent wholesale tax, which would allow tax collections for gas and diesel to increase with inflation. The tax rate would increase by 2 percent increments each January until reaching 15.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2018. At that time, it is estimated the tax rate would approach 40 cents per gallon. At press time, HB5477 was headed back to the House for consideration of changes.

One bill on its way to the governor’s desk would require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to follow the same guidelines for other public authorities. S2181 specifies that records of the Port Authority and meetings of the board and its committees be open to the public. Annual audits would also be mandatory for the agency. In addition, an internal inspector general’s office would be created.

The Senate voted to advance a bill to the House that would reform the Delaware River Port Authority. SB1373 would give the Pennsylvania governor veto power over actions of the agency’s board. To change DRPA’s federal charter, identical legislation must be enacted in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and approved by the federal government. The New Jersey governor already has this authority. LL