Legislature(2005 - 2006)HOUSE FINANCE 519

01/25/2006 01:30 PM FINANCE

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01:38:35 PM Start
01:42:54 PM HB266
02:17:58 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 266(FIN) Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 266                                                                                                            
     An Act relating to offenses  and penalties for violation                                                                   
     of vehicle weight limitations;  prohibiting the use of a                                                                   
     violation  of a  vehicle weight  limitation for  certain                                                                   
     personal  automobile  insurance actions;  amending  Rule                                                                   
     43.6, Alaska Rules of Administration;  and providing for                                                                   
     an effective date.                                                                                                         
Vice Chair  Stoltze MOVED to  ADOPT work draft  #24-LS0860\I,                                                                   
Bailey,  1/23/06,  as the  version  of  the bill  before  the                                                                   
Committee.     He  then  proceeded  to  OBJECT   for  further                                                                   
1:41:16 PM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER BAXTER, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  JIM ELKINS, explained                                                                   
that HB  266 proposes the  first increase in  penalties since                                                                   
the  existing  provisions  were established  in  the  1970's.                                                                   
Existing  provisions  do not  adequately  inhibit  commercial                                                                   
shipping  companies  and  others  from  violating  overweight                                                                   
vehicle limitations.   The proposed modification  establishes                                                                   
a graduated  penalty for  the amount of  weight in  excess of                                                                   
the limitations set by statute, regulation and/or permit.                                                                       
Ms. Baxter noted  that there are new offenses  established to                                                                   
sanction  shippers  or carriers  who  commit  or allow  those                                                                   
working for  them to commit  a combined  total of 12  or more                                                                   
violations during any twelve-month  period.  The maximum fine                                                                   
for   the  violations   is  $10   thousand   dollars.     The                                                                   
modification  is expected  to result  in commercial  shippers                                                                   
and  carriers  being  more rigorous  toward  compliance  with                                                                   
overweight vehicle limitations.                                                                                                 
Ms. Baxter pointed  out another provision of  the bill, which                                                                   
prohibits the  use of overweight  vehicle violations  for use                                                                   
by  insurers   to  adversely  impact  decisions   related  to                                                                   
providing private automobile insurance  coverage for drivers.                                                                   
In the majority of cases, the  driver has little knowledge or                                                                   
ability  to  limit the  weight  of  the  load placed  on  the                                                                   
vehicle  they  are assigned  to  drive.    As a  result,  the                                                                   
company causes  the violation  and if  citied, pays  the fine                                                                   
Currently,   overweight  vehicle   violations  are   used  by                                                                   
insurers as justification to take  adverse action in relation                                                                   
to  the  personal  automobile  insurance  coverage  of  truck                                                                   
drivers.  Section #1 of the bill  would prohibit that action.                                                                   
The legislation  will protect  drivers who  do not  know they                                                                   
are in  violation and State  roads from overweight  vehicles.                                                                   
The  Department   of  Transportation  &   Public  Facilities,                                                                   
Teamsters, and  Horizon Shipping  Lines support the  bill and                                                                   
urge passage.                                                                                                                   
1:42:54 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice Chair  Stoltze asked if the  policy to not  penalize was                                                                   
balanced  so   there  would  be  no  competitive   advantage,                                                                   
violating the law.                                                                                                              
Ms.  Baxter understood  it would  bring  forth a  competitive                                                                   
balance  and   protects  the   driver's  personal   insurance                                                                   
1:43:47 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Meyer  pointed  out   that  the  Teamsters,  Alaska                                                                   
Trucking Association  and the Department of  Transportation &                                                                   
Public Facilities support the legislation.                                                                                      
1:44:14 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Kerttula   inquired  about   the   "indirect                                                                   
courtroom" amendment,  the two  third vote requirement.   Ms.                                                                   
Baxter  explained that  was original  language  and had  been                                                                   
removed, as it was redundant.                                                                                                   
Vice Chair Stoltze interjected  that it had been discussed in                                                                   
previous  minutes.   He noted  that Representative  Gruenberg                                                                   
had been satisfied with the proposed legal opinion.                                                                             
1:45:17 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Baxter  continued, the sponsor  did not see  the language                                                                   
as a  useful remedy.   Co-Chair  Meyer noted  that there  was                                                                   
pending on-line testimony regarding that concern.                                                                               
1:45:51 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Kelly inquired  if insurance companies support                                                                   
the legislation.  Ms. Baxter did  not know if they do support                                                                   
the current version.                                                                                                            
1:46:12 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Hawker asked which  version of the  bill, the                                                                   
Committee was discussing.                                                                                                       
1:46:45 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice Chair  Stoltze WITHDREW  his OBJECTION  to adopting  the                                                                   
#24-LS0860\I version.   There being NO further  OBJECTION, it                                                                   
was adopted.                                                                                                                    
1:46:59 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Hawker  asked   why  the  section  addressing                                                                   
product violations had been removed.                                                                                            
1:47:14 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Baxter requested that be answered by other testifiers.                                                                      
1:47:29 PM                                                                                                                    
AVES THOMPSON,  DIRECTOR, DIVISION  OF MEASUREMENT  STANDARDS                                                                   
AND   COMMERCIAL    VEHICLE   ENFORCEMENT,    DEPARTMENT   OF                                                                   
TRANSPORTATION &  PUBLIC FACILITIES, provided an  overview of                                                                   
the sectional  analysis for  the proposed Committee  version.                                                                   
[Copy on File].                                                                                                                 
He pointed out that:                                                                                                            
   · Section 1 prohibits the use of overweight vehicle                                                                          
     violations by insurers to adversely impact decisions                                                                       
     related to providing private automobile insurance                                                                          
     coverage for drivers.                                                                                                      
   · Section 2 modifies existing law related to the penalty                                                                     
     structure for overweight vehicle violations.                                                                               
Mr.  Thompson  summarized, infrastructure  protection  was  a                                                                   
major issue  as repair and  maintenance costs  resulting from                                                                   
illegal  damage to streets,  roads and  highways continue  to                                                                   
escalate.     The  State  needs   to  provide   a  sufficient                                                                   
deterrence to the loading of illegal overweight trucks.                                                                         
The Department urges favorable consideration of HB 266.                                                                         
1:51:53 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Hawker  questioned why the  section addressing                                                                   
"chronic  violators"   had  been   removed.    Mr.   Thompson                                                                   
acknowledged that  there had been  a lot of debate  regarding                                                                   
carrying that  language forward.   Part  of the problem  that                                                                   
results from overweight  containers is the difference  in the                                                                   
equipment  used to  transport them.   He  stated that  weight                                                                   
concerns become a competitive  issue.  Mr. Thompson added, it                                                                   
is not  in the  role of  the Department  of Transportation  &                                                                   
Public Facilities  to interfere  in the relationship  between                                                                   
customers and carriers.  That remains an industry problem.                                                                      
1:53:32 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Holm  referenced   the  overweight   penalty                                                                   
charges.   He provided  an example  of purchasing  a load  of                                                                   
gravel in  Fairbanks and  if the  legislation is passed  that                                                                   
total charge  will be huge.   The concern with  gravel weight                                                                   
changes the  results depending on  the amount of  moisture in                                                                   
the actual gravel.  No one can  know the actual weight and/or                                                                   
the overweight change.                                                                                                          
1:55:38 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Thompson advised that the  penalty structure had not been                                                                   
changed  at the low  end.   The Department  realizes that  it                                                                   
would be  easy to make  a mistake.  The  flat fee of  $100 is                                                                   
reflective with the  current amount.  Rather  than attempt to                                                                   
distinguish  at the low  level, consideration  was made  that                                                                   
concern.     Weight  allowances   are  spelled  out   in  the                                                                   
Administrative Code.                                                                                                            
1:56:54 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Holm expressed  his concern noting that he had                                                                   
driven trucks  for many years.   He maintained that  the fine                                                                   
was too  high in  comparison to  the actual  profit made  per                                                                   
load.   He voiced concern  with raising  the rates at  all on                                                                   
the  lower  end,  stating  that   the  "little  guy  will  be                                                                   
1:58:11 PM1:58:12 PM                                                                                                          
Mr. Thompson sympathized,  however, did not want  to create a                                                                   
complicated fine structure.  He  stressed that the Department                                                                   
wants to  deter overweight  operations.  In  the case  of the                                                                   
gravel and dirt haulers, an opportunity  is provided on site,                                                                   
to correct it.                                                                                                                  
1:59:12 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Holm  thought that would be problematic.   The                                                                   
trucking industry  is concerned with the amount  it costs the                                                                   
individual.   He stressed  that the  little companies  have a                                                                   
difficult time supporting their work.                                                                                           
2:00:22 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice  Chair Stoltze  declared  a conflict  as  he has  family                                                                   
members in the trucking industry.                                                                                               
Vice Chair  Stoltze inquired  if there  are scales  at gravel                                                                   
fill  and road  sites.   Mr.  Thompson  replied that  usually                                                                   
there are, particularly  in the larger gravel pits.   On most                                                                   
of the State jobs, weight tickets are required.                                                                                 
2:01:40 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Stoltze asked  if  there were  scales at  the                                                                   
Klondike pit in Chugiak.                                                                                                        
Mr. Thompson noted  that there are two different  programs in                                                                   
the Division:                                                                                                                   
   · Weights and measures; and                                                                                                  
   · Commercial vehicle enforcement.                                                                                            
He stated  that typically,  the Department  does not  go into                                                                   
the gravel pit  to enforce the weight limits.   Some vehicles                                                                   
are stopped if it appears there is a problem.                                                                                   
Vice Chair Stoltze reiterated  his query if there were scales                                                                   
at  the above-mentioned  locations.    Mr. Thompson  said  he                                                                   
would check into that.                                                                                                          
2:03:11 PM                                                                                                                    
In response  to another question  by Vice Chair  Stoltze, Mr.                                                                   
Thompson  explained  the  manner used  to  determine  weight.                                                                   
Sometimes, it  is obvious  if the truck  axel bounces  or the                                                                   
way a truck moves down the highway.                                                                                             
2:03:47 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr.  Thompson responded  to  Vice Chair  Stoltze's  question,                                                                   
noting that he has worked during  his years with the State in                                                                   
two   departments   while   addressing   weight   measurement                                                                   
standards:  the  Department of Commerce before  that function                                                                   
merged & moved  to the Department of Transportation  & Public                                                                   
Facilities  in 1997.   He thought  that the current  Division                                                                   
has  operated  very efficiently  over  the past  nine  years.                                                                   
Concluding, he  stated he has worked in  trucking regulations                                                                   
for nearly 23 years.                                                                                                            
2:05:09 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Thompson spoke to the trooper  assigned to their Division                                                                   
through a  federal funding provision  under the  Motor Safety                                                                   
Assistance  Program.   The Division determined,  it  would be                                                                   
best  during  that  transitional   period,  moving  from  the                                                                   
Department   of   Public   Safety  to   the   Department   of                                                                   
Transportation  & Public Facilities  that there be  a trooper                                                                   
presence.    The  trooper  presence  has  continued  and  the                                                                   
Division still  pays that salary  from federal funding.   The                                                                   
relationship with  Department of Public Safety  has proved to                                                                   
be effective.                                                                                                                   
2:06:08 PM                                                                                                                    
On  a  different  note,  Vice  Chair  Stoltze  asked  if  Mr.                                                                   
Thompson had  written a  letter to Dear  Abby.  Mr.  Thompson                                                                   
replied he had.                                                                                                                 
2:07:28 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Holm asked  if any  owner/operators had  been                                                                   
consulted regarding  the bill.   Mr. Thompson  commented that                                                                   
the legislation was  proposed last year.  He  had spoken with                                                                   
a number of  owner/operators individually, receiving  a mixed                                                                   
reaction.  There is no paper trail.                                                                                             
Representative Holm asked the  number of owner/operators that                                                                   
run businesses  up  North.  Mr.  Thompson did  not know  that                                                                   
number  but clarified  that they  typically are  leased to  a                                                                   
carrier and fall  into a category where the  company pays for                                                                   
the citations.                                                                                                                  
2:08:52 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Holm noted that  the State  does not  own any                                                                   
highway areas  on military facilities.  Mr.  Thompson thought                                                                   
that was correct.                                                                                                               
Representative  Holm asked why  the Department had  employees                                                                   
on  those  military  installations,  weighing  trucks.    Mr.                                                                   
Thompson did  not know  that they  did.  Representative  Holm                                                                   
asserted  that they  do.   He offered  to talk  later to  Mr.                                                                   
Thompson about that.                                                                                                            
2:10:46 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Thompson was aware that the  State provides driver safety                                                                   
inspections  at  the  gates  of  military  installations,  in                                                                   
response to a  U.S. military request.  He mentioned  a number                                                                   
of  situations encountered  with  drivers smoking  dope.   He                                                                   
acknowledged that he did not know  about the use of scales on                                                                   
those bases.                                                                                                                    
Mr. Thompson  commented on  the State  moving into  a bidding                                                                   
process;  he  pointed  out  that there  is  nothing  in  that                                                                   
process,  which allows  vehicles to run  "overweight"  on the                                                                   
highways.  Representative Holm  pointed out that they are not                                                                   
on the highways but on federal property.                                                                                        
Co-Chair Meyer  recommended that Representative  Holm and Mr.                                                                   
Thompson follow-up on that concern.                                                                                             
2:12:10 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Holm thought  that it  could directly  affect                                                                   
someone  if they  received a  ticket or  not.   He wanted  to                                                                   
guarantee that there was no impropriety.                                                                                        
2:12:39 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  BELL,  (TESTIFIED  VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  DIRECTOR,                                                                   
ALASKA  TRUCKING  ASSOCIATION   (ATA),  ANCHORAGE,  spoke  in                                                                   
support of  the legislation.   He stated that their  Board of                                                                   
Directors  voted  unanimously  to  support HB  266  with  the                                                                   
amendments  as  written.    The  bill  would  address  driver                                                                   
citation issues dealing with overweight violations.                                                                             
2:15:51 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Kelly  inquired   if  the  ATA  position  had                                                                   
changed  since the  memo  presented to  Representative  Gatto                                                                   
last year.   Mr. Bell responded  that last year, the  ATA was                                                                   
not  in support  of  the bill  in  its' entirety,  which  had                                                                   
changed with the current version.                                                                                               
2:17:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DENNIS BAILEY,  (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),  ALASKA LEGAL                                                                   
SERVICES, JUNEAU,  offered to answer questions  regarding the                                                                   
two-thirds vote  issue.   Representative Kerttula  noted that                                                                   
she had read the memo and was satisfied.                                                                                        
2:17:58 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice  Chair Stoltze  MOVED  to adopt  the  new fiscal  notes.                                                                   
There being NO OBJECTION, the new notes were adopted.                                                                           
Vice Chair  Stoltze MOVED  to REPORT CS  HB 266 (FIN)  out of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying   three  new  notes.     Representative   Hawker                                                                   
OBJECTED to correct  the dates moved on the  fiscal notes and                                                                   
then  WITHDREW  his  OBJECTION.     There  being  NO  further                                                                   
OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                                   
CS HB  266 (FIN)  was reported  out of  Committee with  a "no                                                                   
recommendation" and with new zero  notes by the Department of                                                                   
Transportation  & Public  Facilities  and  the Department  of                                                                   
Commerce,  Community   &  Economic  Development   and  a  new                                                                   
indeterminate note by the Department of Law.                                                                                    

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