2014 US Trucking News – New Trucking Laws in the US
At the start of 2014, notable new laws that are taking effect around the country have been implemented to possibly address issues that are related to trucking. For instance, the state of Kansas is doing away with the long-running motor carrier property, as well as taxes. This tax has been collected since the 1950s. It is based on the value of rolling stock and is also collected on motor carriers, regardless of baseplates that are used by Kansas roads.
Since 1997, property tax for motor carriers is collected by the South Carolina Department of Revenue instead of local counties. These motor carriers are required to file an annual property tax return with the Department of Revenue, before June 30 of the preceding calendar year. The statues that cover the motor carrier property tax are code sections 12-37-2810 through 2880.
A motor carrier is basically a person who owns, controls, operates, and manages, and leases a motor vehicle with a GWV greater than 26,000 pounds or bus for the transportation of property or persons in interstate or intrastate commerce, except for the scheduled intercity bus service, farm vehicles that use FM tags as allowed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Last Wednesday, January 1 2014, the state started to stop collecting taxes in exchange for an additional registration fee that is applied to both interstate and intrastate operations. Out-of-state truckers have also started paying their taxes through the International Registration Plan.
This changed was approved by state lawmakers in 2012. However, the implementation was delayed until 2014. In the meantime, the tax has also been applied for both the 2012 and 2013 tax years.
And once the new year started, the new fee for commercial vehicles now costs around $400 a year for tractor-trailers that weigh more than 60,000 pounds and are registered through IRP. Trucks that are covered with this fee have also become eligible for appointed registration.
The change is expected to be a cost saving measure for both the state and the truckers.
And according to a state analysis, although the outcome of this new law will end up in lost revenue for the state, it will still save money that was typically needed to keep the program running. Trucking related functions that are performed by three divisions at the Kansas Department of Revenue will also be consolidated.
Last January 1 2014, Tennessee started a new law that is intended to bring in ‘civil asset forfeiture’. This scheme will allow police to bring in cash or property, from people that were pulled over along roadsides without getting charged for doing crimes.
Also, the new rule will prevent ‘ex parte’ hearings. This practice prevents individuals from getting a hearing before a judge to determine whether law enforcement had a probable cause to get their property.
Instead, individuals would be able to talk to a judge and tell their side of the story, as well as give evidence that supports their claim. The judge would then listen to both sides and formulate a decision. If the judge rules in favor of the individuals, then their property should be returned right away.
In New Hampshire, a new rule in effect of the first quarter of 2014 has authorized a boost when it comes to speed limit, along with an 80-mile portion of the Interstate 93 North of Concord. This rule change will increase the amount of speeds for all types of vehicles from 65 MPH to 70 MPH, from mile marker 45 near Canterbury, to the border of Vermont.
According to Governor Maggie Hassan, the rule change will deliver the speed limit more in line with the habits of truckers as well as other drivers that are travelling in rural areas.
However, this change does not apply to the Franconia North area, where the speed limit will still remain at 55 MPH.
Truckers and other vehicles that are using many of Illinois’ rural tollways and roadways have also started being authorized to drive a little faster since January 1. The speed limit has also been raised from 65 to 70 MPH on rural four-lane highways, as well as most portions of the Illinois tollway. However, the Illinois Department of Transportation has said that all signs reflecting the change on affected roadways will not be posted until the middle of January. State officials have also asked drivers to wait until the new signage has been installed before driving in the new speed limit.
Governor Pat Quinn has said in a news release that this limited 5-mile-per-hour increase will bring the rural interstate speed limits in Illinois in line with their neighbors and the majority of the states across the US.
The amount of Illinois highways where these new speeds are authorized could also change. Cook and the collar counties that are surrounded by Madison, Chicago, and St. Clair counties right outside of St. Louis can opt out of the change of rules. These trucks will continue to be limited to 55 on the northern portion of the Tri-State Tollway, as well as on an eight-mile segment of Interstate 88 in Kane County.
Another new law that is taking effect in Illinois adds cigarette butts to the list of things that a person can be charged with littering. This violation has carried a maximum fine of $1,500 and up to 180 days in jail. The judge is also authorized to require these lawbreakers to pick up litter along roadways for 30 days.
Truckers who have referred to Delaware as their home will also be required to have an extra piece of equipment that is attached to the vehicle. Commercial vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds registered in the state after January 1 required to be equipped with an audible reverse warning signal, a backup camera, or any other type of warning device.
This rule also applies to both single and combination vehicles in the International Registration Plan, as well as non-IRP trucks.
Those who do not equip their vehicles with the required tools would end up paying $75 in fines. Repeat offenders would face $175 in fines.