We know you don’t have time to keep up with all of the bills being considered that affect your trucking business. That’s why your Association keeps a close watch on legislative action in statehouses near you. On the following pages you will find a roundup of some significant actions from around the country.
For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit LandLineMag.com and click on “Legislative Watch” under the “Important Info” tab.
Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a bill to raise the state’s fuel tax rates by a dime. HB2 increases the 18-cent gas tax and 19-cent diesel tax over three years. Effective Sept. 1, the tax rates will be raised by 6 cents. Additional 2-cent increases will occur in October 2020 and 2021. Also included is a plan to index the state’s excise tax based on the cost of road construction.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law a bill to implement a wholesale fuel tax that amounts to a 3-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase. Effective Oct. 1, the rate will increase from 21.5 cents to
24.5 cents. At the same time, the diesel tax will increase by 6 cents, from
22.5 cents to 28.5 cents. The new tax in SB336 also will be indexed to increase by up to one-tenth cent per year over the next decade.
Also approved by lawmakers is an effort to extend permanently the state’s half-cent sales tax that is dedicated to highways. The tax was implemented in 2012 with a 2023 sunset date. HJR1018 now must go to voters for final approval.
A bill moving through the Senate would implement speed limit differentials on the state’s fastest highways. House lawmakers approved an earlier version of the bill intended to speed up conversion to higher speed limits around the state. Arkansas law permits the state highway commission to increase speed limits only after completing an engineering and traffic investigation. As introduced, HB1631 mandated a 75 mph speed limit on freeways outside urban areas. Speeds on urban freeways would be set at
65 mph. After Senate changes to the bill, trucks would be limited to 70 mph on freeways outside urban areas.
Gov. Jared Polis has signed into law a bill to lower from 21 years to 18 years the minimum age required in the state to be licensed to operate a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce.
Federal lawmakers must also authorize the change for SB18 to take effect.
Two House bills are of interest.
HB7202 would implement all-electronic tolls on all highway users. The legislation specifies that tolls would be collected on Interstates 84, 91, and 95 and state Route 15.
HB7280 would require CTDOT to submit a tolling proposal to the General Assembly. Additionally, a transportation finance authority would be created to eventually set toll rates.
State law already exists to prohibit driving in the left lane below the posted speed. A resolution approved by legislators requests the state police and state DOT to look into the issue of slower traffic in the left lane. Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 requests the agencies to offer recommendations to address the issue. Recommendations could include additional restrictions on left lane use and additional or different signs.
One Senate bill would penalize slowpokes in the far left lane of highways. Minnesota law already requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Violators face $50 fines. SF620 would set the fine at a minimum of $100.
House lawmakers voted to advance a bill, HB393, to the Senate to raise truck speeds on interstate highways from 65 mph to 70 mph throughout the day. Truck speeds on all noninterstate highways would be set at 65 mph for all hours of the day. State highways are limited to 60 mph during the day and 55 mph at night. Cars are allowed to travel 65 mph on noninterstate highways and up to 80 mph on rural interstate highways.
The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill to amend rules on speed limits for the state’s turnpike system and interstate highways. Oklahoma already permits all vehicles to travel at 75 mph on four-lane divided highways, including interstates. HB1071 would authorize the speed on the turnpike system to be raised to 80 mph – up from 75. The bill would also permit the maximum posted speed on rural interstate highways to be increased from 70 to 75 mph.
Two House bills are of note.
HB461 would mandate that large trucks and their trailers come equipped with side underride systems. The bill would require underride systems to be equipped on new trailers with gross vehicle weight ratings more than
HB351 would implement greater state oversight of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. The three-part bill would require an annual financial and management audit of the commission by Pennsylvania’s auditor general and his New Jersey counterpart. Another provision 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.
An effort underway in the House and Senate would permit police officers in the city of Katy to enforce commercial vehicle standards for overweight trucks. Currently, the Texas Department of Public Safety is solely responsible for enforcing overweight rules. HB1308/SB636 would allow officers to apply for “certification to enforce commercial vehicle standards for overweight trucks” passing through city limits.
One Senate bill would reduce the length of time vehicles are allowed to use a rest area from eight to four hours. SB5506 would require the state DOT to designate zones within a rest area with shorter parking time limits for “maximum efficiency and safety.” Drivers of commercial vehicles would be permitted to park up to one hour beyond the federally mandated rest periods.
State lawmakers approved a resolution, HCR32, to give the state DOT authority to increase the speed limit on interstate highways from 70 mph to
75 mph. LL