Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 17

04/14/2005 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Moved CSHB 266(TRA) Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
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                                                               
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.                                                                    

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