Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/22/2002 01:43 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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,                                                               
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                                                               
Number 1943                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES moved  to report  HB 510  out of  committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and  the accompanying zero fiscal                                                               
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                                                               
Number 1906                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  noted  that  there were  no  objections  to  the                                                               
motion.  Therefore, HB 510  was reported from the House Judiciary                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             

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