Legislation still under construction at certain statehouses

August-September 2019

Keith Goble

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As fall approaches, some state legislatures are still in regular session, and dozens of trucking-related bills are on the radar.

Truck issues

One California Assembly-approved bill is intended to codify the state Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision.

AB5 would “provide that the factors of the ABC test be applied in order to determine the status of a worker as an employee or independent contractor for all provisions of the labor code and the unemployment code, unless another definition or specification of ‘employee’ is provided.”

A bill package in Michigan targets truck drivers to cover the bulk of the costs for improving roads and bridges throughout the state.

HB4779 would create a vehicle miles traveled tax of 6 cents per mile on trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or more.

HB4780 would create a bridge toll program specifically for trucks, similar to a program in Rhode Island.

Safety issues

A bill in the Michigan House would eliminate the state’s speed limit differentials.

State law now authorizes 70 mph speeds for motorists on certain highways while large trucks are limited to 65 mph. On about 600 miles of rural interstates, cars are permitted to travel 75 mph while trucks are limited to 65 mph.

Most U.S. and state-numbered highways have speeds posted at

65 mph for all users.

HB4441 would bring truck speeds up to par with limits set for motorists on the interstate highways. The speed differential would remain in place for school buses.

Two Massachusetts bills would revise speed limit rules.

H3023 would increase the state’s 65 mph speed limit to 70 mph. H3024 would permit the use of variable speed limits on limited-access roadways including the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Situations that would activate variable speed limits include traffic congestion, weather conditions, or “any other temporary factor that has a bearing on a safe speed.”

In Pennsylvania, the Senate has voted to advance a bill to authorize speed radar use by municipal police.

SB607 includes a requirement for municipalities to first pass an ordinance allowing the use of radar.

Drivers would be ticketed only if the speed recorded is at least 10 miles over the posted speed limit. On an interstate highway with a posted speed of at least 70 mph, the ticket threshold would be 5 mph over the limit.

Also in the Keystone State is a bill to authorize law enforcement to issue tickets solely for failure to clear vehicles of snow and ice.

Drivers would be required to make “reasonable efforts” to remove snow or ice from all parts of their vehicles within 24 hours of a weather event.

SB114 would excuse truck operators if they are on their way to a facility to remove accumulated snow or ice. In addition, violations would not be issued if compliance would cause the trucker to violate any federal or state law or regulation regarding workplace safety, or if it would be a health or safety threat.

One bill halfway through the Ohio Legislature would require the state Department of Transportation to install centerline rumble strips on two-lane state highways posted with speeds exceeding 45 mph.

HB51 specifies three conditions that would require rumble strips to be added along affected roadways. The strips would be included during construction of a new highway, during major repair work, or during resurfacing work.

Also under review at the Ohio statehouse is a bill package that is intended to quell speed traps.

HB139 would prohibit a city that does not have a fire department or emergency medical services from using traffic cameras.

HB140 would prohibit cameras in towns with 200 people or less.

HB141 would limit the total number of tickets issued from exceeding two times the population.

HB142 would limit revenue from citations to 30% of the town’s annual revenue.

The North Carolina House has advanced a bill that would revise rules on the use of red-light cameras in multiple Cumberland County locales.

State law already permits 19 cities around the state and the municipalities in Union County to use the ticket tool cameras.

H105 would permit the towns of Hope Mills and Spring Lake to use red-light cameras.

Fine amounts in the two towns, and in the city of Fayetteville, would be set at $100 – up from the current $75 fine. The remaining communities would continue to collect $75 fines.

Issues of Note

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is pursuing a deal to nearly triple the state’s fuel tax rate. The revenue would be routed into a new fund devoted to maintain and reconstruct the state’s most heavily traveled roadways.

The state now collects a 26.3-cent tax on fuel purchases. Revenue is divvied between the state DOT (39%), county roads (39%) and cities (22%). The state also charges a 6% sales tax on fuel purchases.

As part of her first budget plan, the Democratic governor wants to increase the state’s fuel tax rate by 45 cents per gallon. The tax increase would come in three 15-cent installments every six months. When fully implemented, the state’s tax rate would become the nation’s largest at 71.3 cents.

Multiple bills in Massachusetts would raise fuel rates in certain instances. Massachusetts now collects a 24-cent-per-gallon tax on gas and diesel purchases.

H2497 would raise the fuel tax by

5 cents per gallon to 29 cents.

H2592/S1667 would authorize a local option gas and diesel excise tax. Specifically, any city or town could choose to collect up to a 5-cent excise tax on fuel sales.

Advancing through the Pennsylvania General Assembly is a three-part bill to implement greater state oversight of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.

The agency maintains and operates seven toll bridges and 13 free bridges connecting New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The DRJTBC is made up of 10 commissioners, with five from each state.

One provision in the bill would require an annual financial and management audit of the commission by Pennsylvania’s auditor general and his New Jersey counterpart.

Another provision in HB351 would require the minutes of every commission meeting to be delivered to the governor. The commission would be forbidden from taking action until the minutes are approved by the governor, or for a period of 10 days.

A third provision would grant the Pennsylvania governor veto power over actions of the state’s commissioners.

In New Jersey, a bill would give certain toll users control over who tows their vehicles after a breakdown or wreck. A5310 would require the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to adopt regulations that permit motorists and professional drivers operating on roadways under their jurisdiction to select a towing company. LL

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.

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