State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Since the first of the year lawmakers throughout the country have been working at breakneck speed to advance their agendas. A portion of those efforts are included on the following pages.

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

A Senate bill would create a 24-member task force to recommend options to replace the fuel tax as a source of funding for transportation. SB1262 would authorize ADOT to run pilot programs based on their suggestions.

On the move in the Senate is a bill to create tougher penalties for drivers who leave the scene after striking people who are crossing roadways or are along roadsides. SB102 would increase prison time from two years to four years for leaving the scene of a crash with fatalities.

Hidden compartments in vehicles, including large trucks and trailers, are the target of one bill. SF2036 would make it a felony for hidden compartments to be installed, created, built or fabricated in any vehicle after it leaves the factory. Included in the bill is a provision to protect law-abiding truckers and others. The protection applies as long as drugs, or drug residue, are not present.

Multiple bills are of note to truckers. SB59 would do away with indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. Provisions would be outlawed in contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence and make them “void and unenforceable.”

SB23 is intended to help start-ups in moving household goods. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet would issue a HHG certificate to any qualified applicant. The department would also set requirements and standards.

SB44 would provide a weight tolerance of 10 percent for trucks hauling meats or agricultural crops originating from a farm to first market; livestock or poultry from their point of origin to first market; and primary forest products such as sawdust, wood chips, bark or logs originating from their points of origin to first market. The weight tolerance wouldn’t apply to interstate travel.

HB80 would fine travelers who ignore temporary police barricades and drive through flooded areas during and after storms. Violators would face fines up to $2,000 to cover the tab for any rescue or recovery that is necessary.

A Senate bill would increase the incentive to stop idling. SB72 would raise the state’s 400-pound APU exemption to 550 pounds.

Two bills on the House side cover left lane rules. Current Maryland law requires any vehicle to move right for overtaking vehicles. HB47 would require the state to post signage about the law.

HB2 would prohibit drivers of all vehicles from lingering in the left lane. Simply driving in the far left lane would be permitted only for passing other vehicles.

Another bill would require all police officers to wear a video camera while on duty. HB116 specifies that recordings must be kept for at least 30 days.

One more bill, HB54, would alter the indexing of fuel tax rates by specifying that rates can increase or decrease based on inflation. State law now prohibits rates from decreasing.

The Joint Committee on Transportation discussed a bill that would require the Massachusetts DOT to set up and implement a pilot program to tax vehicles per miles traveled. The program would include volunteers of passenger and commercial vehicles.

According to H3142, the program would “test the reliability, ease of use, cost, and public acceptance of technology and methods” for counting and reporting the number of miles traveled by particular vehicles.

Gov. Mark Dayton announced a bonding proposal that would invest $986 million in infrastructure projects. The governor wants to apply 7 percent, or about $69 million, to transportation and transit.

At press time, a bill on the move would authorize commercial vehicles to bypass inspection stations if they are “unable to completely exit a highway, road or street due to a vehicle obstruction when reaching the exit lane for the inspection station.” HB851 would require affected drivers to stop at the next inspection station along their route.

Another bill includes multiple truck provisions. HB641 would require DPS to provide for electronic transmission of a medical card required for CDL holders. A driver’s CDL would also be set to come up for renewal every five years on his or her birthday. Also, each county seat would be required to offer CDL renewals at least one day per month.

Under HB13, the state DOT would be required to install rumble strips along shoulders of newly constructed or resurfaced highways, roads or streets.

One more bill would limit left-lane use. HB268 would apply to all vehicles, regardless of speed. Truckers and others traveling on multilane roadways could use the left lane only to overtake and pass another vehicle.

A joint resolution would give voters the final say on a 10-year, 1-cent general sales tax to benefit transportation. HJR68 includes a prohibition on tolls or a fuel tax increase for the next decade. A protection was included to prevent revenue from the tax being diverted away from transportation.

New Hampshire
House lawmakers approved a bill to use local funds to replace or rehabilitate bridges. HB684 would later use state aid funds to fully reimburse municipalities.

New Jersey
Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law to prohibit the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from charging a fee on cargo facility users, ocean and rail carriers and marine terminal operators. However, S2747 would permit a fee to be imposed if both parties have a written mutual agreement. Because New Jersey shares control of the Port Authority with New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo must also sign a bill into law.

Following a pocket veto by the governor, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty reintroduced a bill, A2280, to require all new or used municipal police vehicles that are primarily used for traffic stops to be equipped with cameras.

New York
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that is supposed to ensure owner-operators doing business in the state maintain their independent status and aren’t labeled as employees. Previously S5867, the new law specifies that independent contractors can either own or lease their own equipment. Truckers also could choose to work for one carrier without sacrificing their independent status.

State lawmakers endorsed a plan to renew and expand a nearly $1.9 billion public works program that would benefit local infrastructure. SJR6 authorizes a question to be included in May’s primary election to finance road, bridge and sewer projects. The program funded from bonds backed by the state’s general revenues would pump about $1.87 billion into local projects during the next decade.

A Senate bill 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.

South Carolina
Multiple bills are of note to truckers. S139 would put minimum fines for driving violations in work zones at $250. Speeding incidents that result in injury to another person could result in a $1,000 fine, as well as one month behind bars. Any offense in a work zone would result in two points being added to the driver’s license.

S880 would make it unlawful to use a cellphone to talk or text while driving through highway work zones. Violators would face up to 30 days behind bars and/or fines up to $500.
S829 would double fines for speeding violations that occur in areas where highway maintenance, construction or sanitation workers are present.

One bill halfway through the statehouse would cut into profits by standardizing yellow times at intersections around the state posted with red-light cameras. HB255 would require all red-light cameras to have yellow times of at least three seconds.

Another bill on the move would revise multiple sections in state law relating to commercial drivers. SB565 would allow certain service personnel returning from duty to exchange their military CDL for a state-issued CDL without requiring a driving test. Distracted driving would also be required to be included as part of the state’s driver’s license knowledge exam.

A House bill would remove an option for state lawmakers to avoid traffic tickets simply because they are “working.” HB2289 would clarify the authority of police officers to issue tickets to legislators.

One bill would require people 75 and older to renew their license every four years. State law now requires renewals every eight years. Affected drivers would be required to pass an eye exam. They would have the option of submitting a medical form providing satisfactory eyesight for every other renewal. LL