State Watch - May 2020

What’s happening in your state legislature

May 2020

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.

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 LandLine.media.

Arizona

A House-approved bill is intended to make sure beginning drivers are clear about left lane travel in the state.

Arizona law specifies that travelers driving slower than the speed of traffic must stay in the right lane except to pass. Offenders face fines up to $250.

HB2590 would require the Arizona Department of Transportation to include left lane restrictions in any education and examination material.

A requirement for signs to be posted to alert travelers about the state’s left lane rule was removed from the bill.

The bill awaits consideration on the Senate floor.

Colorado

One bill sent to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk would open the door to an increased speed limit on portions of rural state highways.

Colorado law permits vehicles to travel 65 mph on rural highways. Drivers on rural interstates are authorized to travel 75 mph.

HB1178 would require the Colorado Department of Transportation to conduct a study to identify portions of rural highways where the speed limit can be safely raised by 5 mph to 70 mph. CDOT would then submit a report on their findings to the legislature’s transportation committees.

A separate bill sent to the governor’s desk is intended to improve efficiency in the permit process for certain commercial vehicles.

State law permits fleet owners to apply to CDOT for two separate annual noninterstate overweight divisible load permits. The rule applies to quad-axle and two- or three-axle trailers.

The current fee is $2,000 plus $35 per vehicle permitted. Revenue raised is credited to CDOT’s construction and maintenance budget.

HB1030 would make available a combined annual fleet permit for affected trailers. Fleet owners would still pay the $35 per vehicle fee, but they would save $2,000 with the ability to apply for a combination permit.

Maryland

One bill has died that targeted truck traffic.

State law requires any vehicle driving at least 10 mph below the posted speed to stay to the right.

HB1627 would require truck drivers traveling on roadways with at least three lanes for traffic moving in one direction to use the left lane to turn or to overtake and pass another vehicle.

The rule would apply only on roadways with speed limits of at least 55 mph.

Massachusetts

House lawmakers approved a major funding bill to inject more than a half billion dollars into the state’s revenue stream for road, bridge and transit work.

H4530 would cover transportation needs through increases in vehicle taxes and fees.

Most notably, the state’s 24-cent gas tax would increase by 5 cents to 29 cents. The 24-cent diesel rate would be raised 9 cents to 33 cents.

Revenue estimates show the fuel tax increases would raise revenues by $207 million per year.

Other sources of revenue in the bill include raising fees for ride-hailing services and raising corporate minimum taxes for the state’s largest companies.

Gov. Charlie Baker said he was “disappointed” with the legislation. Instead, he is pursuing a five-year, $18 billion bond bill touted to invest in the state’s transportation system.

Additionally, he continues to support the pursuit of a regional cap-and-trade program that could raise fuel rates up to 17 cents per gallon.

Instead, House lawmakers have approved a $14.5 billion transportation bond bill – H4547 – that includes $3.5 billion less in borrowing than Baker’s bill.

Rhode Island

One Senate bill that would have revised the state’s idling prohibition died. State law now forbids diesel-powered vehicles from idling for more than 5 minutes per hour. S2111 would expand the restriction to include all types of engines.

South Carolina

Two bills moving through the statehouse are intended to further discourage slowpokes hanging out in the far left lane of highways.

South Carolina law requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Exceptions to the lane rule are made for situations that include preparing to turn or to overtake and pass another vehicle. Violators face fines of up to $100.

H4835 would double the fine amount to $200 and attach a two-point violation for improper driving in the left lane.

An exception would be made for commercial driver’s license holders. Violators would face $50 fines but no points would be assessed against his or her driving record.

The South Carolina DOT would also be responsible for posting signs along interstates to alert travelers of the law.

S9 would permit travel in the left lane solely for overtaking or passing another vehicle.

Fine amounts for car and truck drivers found in violation was amended on the Senate floor from $100 to $25. Additionally, violators would get warning tickets for the first 90 days.

Tennessee

Gov. Bill Lee has signed into law a bill that is touted to extend the state’s left lane use rule to benefit commercial drivers. It takes effect on July 1.

State law prohibits drivers from hanging out in the far left lane on interstates and highways with three or more lanes in each direction. Violators face $50 fines.

Previously HB618/SB1497, the new law revises the rule to apply on roads with two or more lanes.

Washington

A new law effective June 11 gives large trucks permission to use two lanes to navigate through circular intersections, including roundabouts. SB6084 allows trucks to deviate from the lane in which the operator is driving as the vehicle approaches a circular intersection. The rule change applies to trucks with a gross vehicle weight of at least 26,000 pounds. Hazardous material haulers are also covered by the rule change. One Senate-approved bill that is dead for the year would address concern about policing for profit.

SB6316 would prohibit consideration of the number of citations an officer issues, or the number of penalties assessed, in any performance review, evaluation, rating, assessment, salary, promotion or assignment.

The bill remained in a House committee when the session ended. It will return to the Senate for the start of the 2021 regular session. 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.