State Watch – July 2021

July 2021

Keith Goble

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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.

The following is a roundup of some significant actions from around the country. For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit LandLine.Media.

Arkansas

A revision to Arkansas’ left lane rule is now law.

In 2013, the state acted to prohibit all travelers from continuous driving in the left lane on multiple-lane roadways whenever traffic flow is impeded.

Previously HB1849, the new law revises the rule to state that left lane travel is only allowed when passing or overtaking another vehicle. Other exceptions include preparing to turn left, or when other lanes are closed or unusable.

Idaho

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has signed into law a bill to more than quadruple revenue available for a transportation program to benefit large infrastructure projects.

Dubbed the Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation program, the 4-year-old program provides additional funds for statewide construction projects through bonding.

A 2017 law authorized the state to shift a portion of sales tax revenue from the general fund to the transportation program. Specifically, 1% of the state’s sales tax revenue is deposited into the program intended to expand state highways. The sales tax revenue stems from the state’s cigarette tax.

H362 increases the sales tax revenue shift to 4.5%. Essentially, the change provides an $84 million boost for the program in the first year.

Missouri

The General Assembly has sent to the governor a bill to raise the state’s 17-cent fuel tax rate by 12.5 cents over five years.

The increase to 29.5 cents would be phased in over five years. Starting Oct. 1, 2021, the tax would be increased by 2.5 cents each fiscal year until July 1, 2025.

Included in SB262 is an option for most Missouri residents to apply for an exemption and refund. The option would be available to residents fueling vehicles with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 26,000 pounds.

Owners of alternative fuel vehicles would also contribute more. The fees for decals would be increased by 20% annually for five years.

Fees for electric and hybrid vehicles weighing in excess of 36,000 pounds would see a 10% annual increase over the same time period.

Montana

A local-option gas tax in place in Missoula County has been voided by the Montana Legislature and the governor.

Less than a year after voters in Missoula approved a local gas tax to provide a boost for local transportation work, Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed into law a bill to repeal the tax increase.

Previously HB464, the new law repeals the 2-cent local excise tax on gas purchases in place since last September. Diesel fuel was excluded from the increase.

South Carolina

Gov. Henry McMaster has signed into law a bill to revise the state’s left lane rule.

State law has required any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. No penalties were attached to the law.

H3011 applies the left lane rule to situations on highways with at least two lanes when a vehicle is traveling behind a slower-moving vehicle. Fines would be limited to $25.

Commercial vehicle drivers will be exempt from the rule when they are unable to move into the right lane safely due to other vehicles overtaking or passing the truck on the right, or when a truck’s driver is unable to move into the right lane safely due to a highway grade or other vehicles overtaking or passing the truck on the right.

The revised rule takes effect in mid-August. Warnings will be issued for violations occurring during the first 90 days.

Texas

An overhaul to injury liability statute for truck operations in Texas is on the governor’s desk.

HB19 would protect trucking companies from what are described as frivolous lawsuits in instances where the driver was not negligent.

Additionally, a court would be required to dismiss a lawsuit against a truck operator if the injury or death of another person was caused while the operator was carrying out their duties “within the scope of employment.” LL

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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.