State Watch
OOIDA’s state watch

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

The majority of state legislatures have wrapped up their work for this year. A special thanks to those of you who followed what took place in your state and who tipped us off on initiatives you cared about.

Here’s our early fall roundup of what governors signed into law in recent weeks and of other items still active.

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

A new law requires cellphone manufacturers to install and activate a shut-off function, or “kill switch,” in all new smartphones sold in the state by next summer. SB962 requires the shut-off function to be enabled during set-up.

Another new law permits counties to increase vehicle registration fees to set up fingerprint ID programs. AB2393 permits counties already charging vehicle registration fees for ID programs to increase the amount. Specifically, affected counties could charge $2 on car registration fees – up from $1. Trucks would pay $4 – up from $2. Counties not already applying a charge on vehicle registrations could implement the fees.

Two more bills are on the governor’s desk. SB828 would prohibit 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.

SB1183 would authorize local governments to include questions on local ballots about whether to add as much as $5 to vehicle registration fees during the next decade for building or improving bicycle infrastructure.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed two bills into law. SB3411 forbids any requirement from law enforcement “to issue a specific number of citations within a designated period of time.” Agencies are also prohibited from evaluating personnel based on the number of tickets written or arrests made.

HB3794 authorizes selling $1.1 billion in bonds to pay for road and bridge work in the state.

The governor, however, nixed an effort to reduce the speed limit differential on rural interstate highways in Cook and the “collar” counties surrounding Chicago. He cited concerns about allowing large trucks to drive faster. The House and Senate can consider SB930 this fall during a scheduled veto session.

A “blue ribbon” panel created by Gov. Mike Pence called on state lawmakers to stop diverting fuel tax revenue to the state’s general fund. They also recommended that the Legislature index the state’s fuel tax to increase with inflation and consider a new vehicle-miles-traveled tax.

Also proposed by the group is increasing the length of tractor-trailers from 53 feet to 57 feet “to increase the payload per truck.” Other recommendations call for separate truck-only lanes and mandate trailers to have three axles instead of two to reduce the weight per axles and “therefore, reduce damage to roads.”

A House bill would prevent insurance companies from raising vehicle insurance rates when a driver submits a claim from pothole damage. HB5456 would prohibit insurance companies from setting a rate or premium surcharge based on a prior claim for damage caused by a pothole.

A new law requires all newly acquired municipal police vehicles that are primarily used for traffic stops to be equipped with dashboard cameras. A2280 contains a provision to include body cameras.

Other bills of note remain active. A3457 would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using the volume of an officer’s arrests or citations as a factor when evaluating that officer’s overall performance.

S241 would require representation on the Turnpike Authority’s board by all regions of the state. The bill would mandate at least one of the seven appointed members be from Ocean, Atlantic or Cape May counties.

S243 would require the Turnpike Authority to hold meetings on a rotating basis in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties. At least one regular meeting of the authority would also be required to be held annually on a rotating basis in the area of Salem, Gloucester and Camden counties. One regular meeting each year would also be required in Bergen County.

A3527 would prohibit the state from sharing information about New Jersey drivers with other states for speed or red-light camera enforcement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed multiple bills into law to continue the use of red-light cameras in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk counties and the city of Yonkers. The programs were set to expire this December. The extensions permit the continued use of camera surveillance until at least 2019. The governor also signed bills to authorize red-light camera use in the cities of Albany, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle.

A bill headed to the governor’s desk is intended to improve transparency at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A3944 includes financial reporting and transparency requirements.

If the reform bill is signed into law, identical legislation would also need to be adopted in New Jersey. To become effective, lawmakers in both states must endorse changes to the bi-state authority.

Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law to use toll taxes to pay off reconstruction of the Brent Spence Bridge. HB533 would authorize the state to enter into an agreement with Kentucky and a private group to construct, operate and finance Ohio’s segment of the bridge.

Another bill signed into law requires the Ohio Department of Taxation to notify businesses in the state, including trucking operations, when they overpay their taxes and provide automatic refunds in the form of credits toward future taxes.

One bill still working its way through the statehouse would make available enhanced commercial and personal driver’s licenses and identification cards. An alternative to traveling with a passport, the federally approved ID is available for people crossing international borders. HB346 puts the additional fee for the enhanced license at $25.

Rhode Island
Gov. Lincoln Chaffee signed a measure that calls for the construction of a median barrier on the Pell Bridge. HR7760 also asks the RITBA and the State Police to work together to rigorously enforce the 40-mph speed limit on the bridge, as well as laws prohibiting distracted driving. LL