Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 17
04/14/2005 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 266-VEHICLE WEIGHTS AND INSURANCE CO-CHAIR ELKINS asked if there was any further business to come before the committee. Upon the following motion, the committee turned its attention to 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." REPRESENTATIVE THOMAS moved that the committee rescind its action in failing to report CSHB 266(TRA) from committee on April 12, 2005. There being no objection, CSHB 266(TRA) was before the committee. MICHAEL BELL, Alaska Trucking Association (ATA), said ATA supports the insurance provision of HB 266. He said ATA doesn't support the large increase in fines in Section 2, but the proposal would be less objectionable "if confined to the highest fees to the most significant violators." He stated that 8,000 pounds or less of overweight have insignificant impacts on highways and may result from unintentional errors or lack of scales. The fees place a larger burden on the small companies, he contended. Mr. Bell said ATA does not support the shift of responsibility from the motor carriers to the shippers for violations caused by the bill of lading, because carriers have the right to seek restitution from their customers if they so choose. 2:11:57 PM MR. BELL said for the provision dealing with the number of fines related to the number of drivers, ATA suggests an additional tier for up to 60 violations for the large companies that employ more than 200 drivers. 2:13:09 PM REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN said he wished the committee had the recommendations before the meeting. He said he agrees with Mr. Bell on the fines. He said 8,000 pounds won't do significant damage. "If we just had better enforcement, we wouldn't need higher fines," he said. He suggested including ATA's letter when the bill leaves committee. 2:14:34 PM REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING said he is not clear on ATA's position. MR. BELL said ATA supports some of the intentions of HB 266, but it has some concerns with the increase in fees. He added that ATA would like an amendment to make 8,000 pounds the baseline and to increase fines on escalating over weights. He agrees that extra weight is detrimental to roads, but it is very difficult to be precise because of mud and snow. REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING asked for ATA's proposed amendment. CO-CHAIR ELKINS suggested that the House Finance Committee address the fee structure. REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING said he has faith in the House Finance Committee, but he is uncomfortable with the high fees. Can a little excavating business hauling a dozier one block down the road be cited? he asked. 2:17:49 PM NONA WILSON, Legislative Liaison, Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, said there are temporary permits available. AVES THOMPSON, Director, Division of Measurement Standards and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, said permits are available, and without one, the truck would be in violation. 2:18:42 PM REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN asked the time and cost for a permit. MR. THOMPSON said a permit can be obtained within the same day unless there is an extraordinary load, and fees are $50 to $75. 2:19:27 PM BARBARA HUFF TUCKNESS, Director of Governmental and Legislative Affairs for Teamsters Local 959, said she represents a few truck drivers, and the Teamsters strongly support HB 266. It is an issue of road damage and safety, and whether it is a small business or large, the rules are the rules. Running 5,000 pounds over weight is significant, and it is the motoring public that is impacted, she said. The current fee structure has become just another cost of business, she noted, and truck drivers have a good idea if the truck is 2,000 pounds over. 2:21:59 PM MS. TUCKNESS said the proposed fines will not impact anyone not running overweight. Small or large, everyone should understand the rules of the road. There is a timely permitting process, she concluded. 2:24:47 PM REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING said safety is important but he is nervous about adopting legislation that increases fees to this extent. He asked if there is a correlation with fee structures and overweight offences. MS. TUCKNESS said the teamsters believe the bill would reduce violations. It is important to send the message, she said. 2:26:44 PM REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING said he won't oppose HB 266, but he will look at what comes out of the House Finance Committee before supporting it on the floor. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN said 2,000 pounds is hard to distinguish on a vehicle that runs 200,000 pounds. REPRESENTATIVE THOMAS said a driver of a truck that is 20,000 pounds over weight should lose his or her license. MS. TUCKNESS said she supports increasing the state's enforcement budget. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN said HB 266 does nothing to the owners of the company. Truck drivers may be making $15 hour, and may be threatened with their job if they don't haul what they are told to do. CO-CHAIR ELKINS said that is not true. 2:29:28 PM PAUL FUHS, Horizon Lines, Anchorage, said the ticket goes to the driver who turns it over to the owner. The driver doesn't have to pay the ticket, he said. Some companies may be overloading as a practice, putting the drivers and public at risk. The shipper or loader who lies can be held liable. Generally the driver is not the person who gets a sanction, he said. 2:31:20 PM MR. FUHS said trucks bend the pavement when overloaded, enough to break the water seal. Running overweight at a slow speed will prevent such damage. He gave an example of a family killed by an overloaded gravel truck. 2:32:44 PM REPRESENTATIVE THOMAS moved to report CSHB 266(TRA) out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, CSHB 266(TRA) was reported out of the House Transportation Standing Committee.