Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/22/2002 01:43 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 510 - COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLES:REGULATIONS TAPE 02-53, SIDE B Number 2380 CHAIR ROKEBERG announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 510, "An Act relating to the regulation of commercial motor vehicles to avoid loss or withholding of federal highway money, and to out-of-service orders concerning commercial motor vehicles; amending Rule 43.1, Alaska Rules of Administration; and providing for an effective date." Number 2375 MIKE KRIEBER, Staff to Representative Vic Kohring, House Transportation Standing Committee, Alaska State Legislature, said, on behalf of the sponsor, the House Transportation Standing Committee (HTRA), that the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) requested the introduction of HB 510. He indicated that HB 510 is intended to complete Executive Order 98 by transferring from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to [the DOT&PF] the authority to promulgate regulations pertaining to the transportation of hazardous materials. Number 2324 AVES D. THOMPSON, Director, Anchorage Office, Division of Measurement Standards & Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF), testified via teleconference. He said: We're the folks that operate the weigh stations, issue permits, conduct driver/vehicle safety inspections, et cetera. As Mr. Krieber mentioned, [HB 510], as proposed, completes the consolidation of truck size, weight, ... safety, and permitting regulatory programs that was started with Executive Order 98 at the beginning of fiscal year [FY] 98. Most of the authority to effectively operate the truck, size, weight, ... safety, and permitting programs was given at the time to the department. The authority to promulgate regulations for driver/vehicle safety requirements and hazardous materials transport was not transferred and currently resides in the Department of Public Safety. House Bill 510 transfers that authority to the [DOT&PF].... The hazardous materials transport regulations deal with notification, movement, labeling, and documentation of hazardous materials loads. Federal law requires that the state commercial motor vehicle safety regulations be no less stringent than federal law or regulations; under 49 U.S.C. 31141, state commercial motor vehicle regulations are preempted if the Secretary of Transportation finds that state commercial motor vehicle regulations are less stringent. In the past, Alaska has avoided that result by incorporating, by reference, the federal motor carrier safety regulations, which provide equipment standards, working conditions for drivers, and vehicle inspection standards. Federal law also requires that hazardous materials transport regulations be compatible with federal law. Again, Alaska has avoided preemption by incorporating, by reference, the federal motor carrier hazardous materials transport regulations. Number 2235 MR. THOMPSON continued: Alaska has not received any formal sanctions from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [FMCSA] on our currently outdated driver/vehicle and hazardous materials transport regulations. At the present time, Alaska's regulations in this area ... incorporate, by reference, the federal regulations as they existed in 1995. We have new regulation drafts prepared and ready to go through the adoption process as soon as this legislative change is effective. In summary ..., passage of [HB 510] completes the transfer of the regulatory authority over commercial ... motor vehicles to DOT&PF. It is in the best interest of the state, and the trucking industry, for this transfer to occur, because the people responsible for the adoption of the commercial motor vehicle safety and hazardous materials transport regulations will also be enforcing the standards. With the changes made through [HB 510], the trucking industry can realize the objective of "one-stop shopping" in terms of commercial vehicle operations. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked if, in adopting HB 510, the federal laws would still be adopted by reference. MR. THOMPSON said yes. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked whether, via adoption of HB 510, the state's regulations will become too rigid to accept changes in the federal regulations. MR. THOMPSON replied: The problem here is that the [DOT&PF] does not have the authority to promulgate these regulations, and the [DPS] had promulgated the set that is currently enforced. And when ... we assumed that in Executive Order 98 that that authority had come along with it, when we went to adopt the later version of the federal motor carrier safety regulations, we learned that we in fact did not have the authority. What this piece of legislation does is to correct that deficiency. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL surmised, then, that currently there are federal regulations and the state will be adopting those regulations into state statute. MR. THOMPSON said that is correct, with some modifications, though. Number 2133 FRANK DILLON, Executive Vice President, Alaska Trucking Association, Inc., testified via teleconference in support of HB 510. He said that HB 510 is truly a housekeeping mechanism; it is truly something that should have been done with the exercise of Executive Order 98, and it only affects a very small portion of trucks in Alaska. The nature of the freight determines whether a truck is involved in interstate commerce. Most trucking activity involves freight that arrives by ship or barge, or comes up the highway; this freight, therefore, is already covered by the federal regulations as revised October, 2001. Thus most trucking companies are already complying with regulations that are as stringent as state regulations will be once they are adopted. He noted, however, that a small percentage of drivers might make the argument that the federal regulations that are more stringent, in particular those found on page 2 of HB 510 regarding the consumption of alcohol or other substances, have never been adopted by the state. He urged members to move quickly on this issue. MR. DILLON, in response to a question, noted that the provisions regarding alcohol and other substances, found in Section 2 of HB 510, have changed substantially in the federal code since 1995, and although many provisions have been adopted via reference, HB 510 will allow for the adoption of state regulations that will be more in tune with federal regulations, particularly with regard to hazardous materials issues. In response to another question, he indicated his belief that provisions regarding commercial motor vehicle impairment are currently located in Title 28. He added that while it is an offense to drive a commercial vehicle with a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04, the actual dispatch of a driver is prohibited if there is even a hint of alcohol on the driver's breath. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked Mr. Dillon whether he is comfortable with the regulations that will be promulgated once HB 510 becomes law. MR. DILLON said he is comfortable with what will be promulgated, and confident in the public process should there be anything that still needs to be addressed once the regulations are ready for public comment. He added that his organization has a very close working relationship with the [DOT&PF], and has pushed very strongly for the tightest safety regulations that can be provided for under the law, and those currently are the federal standards. Number 1943 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES moved to report HB 510 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying zero fiscal note. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ commented: "I've been sitting in these chambers for a long time, and it always befuddles me how Representative Kohring can move to adopt federal regulations; I thought that was incompatible with his ten-point plan of the universe." Number 1906 CHAIR ROKEBERG noted that there were no objections to the motion. Therefore, HB 510 was reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.