State Watch – June 2019
Elected officials in about one-quarter of all states throughout the country continue to consider bills that affect your trucking business.
We know you don’t have time to keep up with all the legislative action. That’s why your Association keeps a close watch on the action for you. On this and the following pages, you will find a roundup of some significant happenings from around the country.
A bill that has passed the House and is under consideration in the Senate would amend the state’s left lane use rule. Alabama law already prohibits drivers from hanging out in the far-left lane. HB212 would revise the rule to clarify while traveling on an interstate it is against the law to stay left more than 1.5 miles without completely passing another vehicle. Some exceptions would apply. Warning citations would be issued for the first 60 days.
The Senate voted to advance a bill to lower the legal age to possess an intrastate CDL from 19 years to 18 years. SB75 includes a provision to lower the minimum age requirement to drive truck interstate from 21 years to 18 years. The change is contingent on federal law being modified from the current 21 years of age requirement to operate a commercial vehicle interstate.
A bill that is one vote away from moving to the governor’s desk covers snow and ice removal from atop vehicles. SB58 would set fines of $25 to $75 for failure to remove snow or ice. Incidents that cause property damage or physical injury would result in penalties of $200 to $1,000 for motorists. Truck drivers would face fines of $500 to $1,500. Drivers would be exempt for accumulations while the vehicle is in operation.
The Legislature has approved a bill to extend the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia line. Additional projects in the plan include a highway to connect Polk County to Collier County, and a connector for the Florida Turnpike west to the Suncoast Parkway. The bill would have the Florida DOT study the three projects. Construction would begin within three years. S7068 now moves to the governor’s desk.
Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law a bill to increase the 65 mph speed limit to 70 mph on the full length of Interstate 65. HB266 also permits faster travel for all vehicles for the entire length of the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway Extension. Currently, 70 mph travel is permitted along the parkway from I-64 to the beginning of the Mountain Parkway Extension in Wolfe County. Elsewhere on the affected parkway, a 65 mph speed limit is posted.
Discussion continues at the statehouse to settle differences between the House and Senate on how to pay for a transportation funding plan.
The Democrat-led House approved a plan to raise the fuel tax by 20 cents per gallon and to raise vehicle fees. Senate Republicans countered with a plan to add fees on electric and hybrid vehicle owners.
The House plan would generate more than $1 billion in new revenue. The Senate plan would keep spending close to current levels.
A conference committee made up of five lawmakers from each chamber are working on a compromise for HF1555.
The Legislature has sent to the governor a bill to raise truck speeds. HB393 would raise the speed limit for trucks on interstate highways from 65 to 70 mph throughout the day. Truck speeds on all noninterstate highways would be set at 65 mph for all hours of the day. Posted speed on rural interstate highways would be increased from 70 to 75 mph.
The Senate voted to advance a bill to authorize county commissions in counties with fewer than 100,000 people to add a tax of up to 5 cents per gallon on diesel purchases. SB48 would require additional diesel revenue raised to be used for local road construction and maintenance. A portion of tax collections would be allotted to construct, maintain or repair truck parking in counties that sell more than 10 million gallons of diesel annually.
Two new laws are of interest. HB1071 authorizes the speed on the state turnpike system to be raised to 80 mph – up from 75. The new law also raises the maximum posted speed on rural interstate highways from 70 to 75 mph.
Effective Nov. 1, HB1210 allows truck owners to register three or more vehicles at the same time. The rule change applies even for vehicles previously registered in different months. The month in which the vehicles are newly registered will be the month their registration renewals will be due each year. Vehicle registrations will be prorated at the time of renewal if previously registered in the same calendar year.
Efforts continue at the statehouse to authorize speed radar use by local police. SB406 would allow local police officers to use radar to nab speeders. HB352 would authorize local police to use radar as part of a six-year pilot program. HB1275 would limit use of radar to full-time officers of a full-service police department.
The Senate version specifies revenue from speeding tickets that exceeds 5% of the total municipal budget, or 20% of the regional police department budget, would be given to the state troopers.
HB1376 would revise the state’s lane use rule to make it an offense to hang out in the far-left lane. Specifically, a citation could be issued for any driver who continuously operates their vehicle in the left lane and impedes the flow of traffic on a limited access highway.
Multiple truck bills of note are nearing passage. HB511 would authorize a sheriff or a deputy sheriff in Williamson County to apply for certification to enforce commercial vehicle safety standards.
Three bills would make police officers in select locales eligible to apply for certification to enforce truck rules. HB695 would apply to officers in the city of Jacksonville. HB917 would apply to the city of Kermit. SB636 would apply to the city of Katy.
Another bill nearing passage specifies that the owner of a vehicle that exceeds maximum height limits is “strictly liable” for any damage to a bridge, underpass, or similar structure that is affected by a vehicle height violation. HB799 would make offenders responsible for paying costs to repair damage caused by the height of the vehicle. LL