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Trucking & Freight :: Transport News

Archive for Trucking & Freight – Page 74

john-winewski.JPGCommittee chairman Assemblyman John Winewski (D-Middlsex) had invited a Port Authority director to appear before the hearing, but due to a previous engagement, the official was unable to attend.

TRENTON — Without hearing testimony from the agency they were targeting, lawmakers Thursday released four bills from committee intended to reign in and open up the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The bills, which would increase legislative oversight of the bistate agency and enhance its transparency, now head for a vote of the full Assembly. They were approved Thursday by the Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee without any testimony from port authority officials.

Committee chairman, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), had invited Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye to appear before the hearing, but agency spokeswoman Jamie Loftus said Foye had a previous engagement in Washington, D.C. Loftus also said Deputy Director Bill Baroni had appeared before the committee when the invitation was extended in June 2010. This time, Loftus noted, Baroni was not invited.

Wisniewski said at the outset of the hearing the Port Authority’s absence was “disturbing,” after he had hoped for a “robust” discussion of Port Authority operations amidst recent events. He later said he had planned to raise questions about the agency’s controversial toll hike in September. He also said he wanted to talk about patronage. A document surfaced recently detailing 171 Port Authority hires since 1998 based on referrals by the governors of New York and New Jersey, including 39 by Gov. Chris Christie during his first year in office alone.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle (D-Bergen), who is not a transportation committee member but sponsored one of Thursdays bills, said the Port Authority’s one-day public hearing process before an August vote to hike tolls a record 50 percent was woefully inadequate. Huttle’s bill, would require additional public hearings before the next phase of the toll hike takes effect, an additional increment scheduled for December.

Walter Schulte of the Eastern Environmental Law Center, spoke before the

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/0TrI9exDmVk/nj_lawmakers_introduce_bills_t.html

Categories : Trucking & Freight

NH: Prohibiting sobriety checkpoints opposed

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

CONCORD — Law enforcement, the attorney general and the House leadership turned out Thursday to oppose a bill that would prohibit sobriety checkpoints.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1452 and is expected to recommend the House kill the bill.

A bill sponsor, Rep. Seth Cohn, R-Canterbury, and other supporters said people’s due process rights are violated during checkpoints stops when people are arrested for other violations or their vehicles are searched.

Supporters also questioned if current practices follow the guidelines set out in past legislation after the state Supreme Court found there were constitutional issues with random, unannounced checkpoints.

Those opposing the bill said prohibiting the checkpoints would take a very important tool away from law enforcement in their fighting against impaired drivers.

Law enforcement officials credited the checkpoints for helping to reduce the fatalities on the state’s roads last year to the lowest level in 51 years.

Peter Thomson, the coordinator of the New Hampshire Highway Safety Agency, said sobriety checkpoints are among the tools law enforcement uses to drive down the number of fatalities. “They are a really important tool in the fight to drive down alcohol related fatalities,” he said.

State Police Sgt. Matthew Shapiro said the checkpoints not only catch impaired drivers, but also act as a deterrent for those who don’t want to take the chance they will be caught.

He said impaired drivers are responsible for 41 percent of the fatal crashes in the state over the last three years.

Bill supporters maintained they are not against taking drunk drivers off the road, but are concerned the current law giving the court oversight over the checkpoints is not being followed.

Cohn said courts should not be approving checkpoints if other methods, like roaming patrols, prove more effective. Yet he said the courts continue to approve the checkpoints. “The courts have given in and said checkpoints are fine with us,” he said.

He said checkpoints between Dec. 20, 2011 and New Year’s Day produced 26 arrests for impaired driving and 56 arrests for other violations. “I thought it was a sobriety checkpoint? That gets

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/Y-1S_GyDjWo/702039960

Categories : Trucking & Freight

RALEIGH — Drivers are getting a little good news: Auto insurance rates are not going up this year.

This is the second year in a row that the state’s auto insurers have not sought a rate increase.

The claims data just didn’t support an increase, said Ray Evans, general manager of the N.C. Rate Bureau, which represents 142 insurance companies that write auto policies in North Carolina

Evans said the frequency and severity of accidents has been stable over the past few years. He credited people driving less frequently, improved car safety and more active law enforcement — particularly the ticketing of people who text while driving.

“Those things have an impact, and we’re seeing the graduated driver license training continue to have an effect. … The fatality rate has dropped dramatically,” he said. “The end result is that with things stable there does not appear to be any need for an increase.”

That doesn’t mean some people won’t see an increase. Some companies may not be charging the maximum allowed and will be able to raise rates.

The average annual premium in North Carolina was $595 in 2008, the most recent data available from the Insurance Information Institute.

The Rate Bureau does not get the last word. That belongs to Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. And no state insurance commissioner has approved an auto insurance rate increase in 15 years, according to the Department of Insurance.

The DOI staff will review the Rate Bureau’s filing, and could conclude that a rate decrease is needed.

If that happens, the two sides will negotiate to reach a settlement.

That happened in 2009. Insurers had requested a 1.4 percent increase. But Goodwin ordered a rate decrease of one-half percent. Insurers appealed that decision, and in the meantime, as they are allowed to do, implemented a rate increase.

After the settlement, insurers had to refund more than $50 million.

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/TSQWYk9vzEM/no_rise_in_auto_insurance_in_nc_this_year

Categories : Trucking & Freight

granholm.jpgGov. Jennifer Granholm holds up the state’s texting-while-driving ban law after signing it April 30, 2010, in Detroit, during a broadcast of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

When then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to sign Michigan’s law banning texting while driving, Winfrey praised Granholm for being a leader in taking action to “stop the madness of distracted driving.”

But nearly two years later, it’s apparent Michigan’s law is like a kiddie pool: too shallow and too small to be effective.

Law enforcement officials say the ban is difficult to enforce. Insurance agencies say it doesn’t address other dangerous, distracting cellphone uses.

While both groups support the measure, they agree it might be time to look at expanding the ban to things like reading and writing emails, checking Facebook or perusing the Internet.

“We obviously have an interest, and for us it’s a personal one,” said Terrence Jungel, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. “With fewer accidents, there’s less carnage we have to witness.”

Even while the texting ban was debated and passed, the Senate Fiscal Agency warned in its analysis the bills didn’t go far enough.

Overview of MLive’s findings
Scars are seen and unseen after crash
Woman crippled by texting teen
Day 2: From the police files
The entire ‘Distracted Driving’ series

“Searching for songs on an mp3 player or dialing a phone, for example, can draw the driver’s attention from the road just as sending a text message does,” the analysis said.

But lawmakers declined to expand the ban. For example, a driver with the right phone and applications could watch the Detroit Tigers while cruising down the highway at 70 mph, and be well within the law.

The analysis proved to be prescient.

MEDIAUSE.jpgView full size

A report issued by State Farm Insurance Co. in December found that while

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/1RUJzPa-_pc/is_michigans_text_messaging_ba.html

Categories : Trucking & Freight

ID: Higher speed limit won’t advance

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

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BOISE – On a 5-4 vote, an Idaho Senate committee Thursday killed legislation to allow big trucks to drive 75 mph on the state’s freeways, just like cars.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, sponsored the bill. “The primary issue that brought this forth was safety,” Hammond said. “Throughout my service on this committee, I have heard how safety is always enhanced when you’ve got all traffic flowing at a common speed.”

However, he said, “I also learned that it’s really unlikely that common speed can be achieved, based on the fact that most trucks have speed limiters. … Also, some drivers will just choose to drive a lower speed than the maximum speed.”

Deborah Johnson, general manager of a Caldwell trucking company, said trucks aren’t built to maintain a 75 mph speed.

“They’re engineered that way,” she said. “We can’t go up King Hill faster than 35. I don’t care what the sign says, I’m not going to go faster because I can’t go any faster. So we’re always going to have that gap between trucks and cars.”

Idaho’s top speed on rural interstates is 75 mph for cars and 65 mph for trucks; that’s been the case since 1998.

Since the bill was introduced, lawmakers have been informed that most large trucking firms limit their truckers to 62 to 65 mph for the best fuel efficiency and tire wear, and some install regulators that prevent the trucks from traveling faster.

“If we have the largest number of operators, these larger fleets, still maintaining a lower speed limit, we won’t have accomplished anything,” said state Sen. Chuck Winder, a Meridian Republican and former chairman of the Idaho Transportation Board. “All we’ll do is maybe turn some of the renegades loose from Mississippi or Tennessee or something like that, that go flying through our state. And I think

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/1pQ4hYYsYMs/

Categories : Trucking & Freight

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

New car buyers in Georgia would have to shell out an extra $2 for the state’s “lemon law” fee under a bill passed Thursday in the Senate.

The increase included in Senate Bill 305 would raise the fee from $3 to $5, a 66 percent increase at a time when lawmakers by the dozen want to more tightly regulate the state’s fee system. Still, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Bulloch, R-Ochlocknee, said the extra money would help the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection enforce the law, which was expanded in 2008.

The lemon law protects car buyers who, in their first two years of ownership, find new cars to be defective. The fee helps the state pay for enforcement.

Opponents, however, noted that not all revenue generated by the fee was used toward the office. Last year, for example, they said the fee generated $539,000, but only $400,000 of it was spent to administer and enforce the law.

Lawmakers in both chambers have complained that money collected from state fees often gets spent on other programs or moved around to cover state budget shortfalls elsewhere.

Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, last week filed House Bill 811, which calls for fees not appropriated and spent for their intended purposes in the state budget to be reduced or eliminated proportionate to the amount that gets redirected to other programs. More than 60 House members signed on.

Another bill filed by Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker, Senate Resolution 704, would let voters decide whether to change the state constitution and give lawmakers the ability to permanently set where fees go.

The Senate passed the lemon law fee increase on a 30-19 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/fYokbR2OK-U/georgia-lemon-law-fee-1328529.html

Categories : Trucking & Freight

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The House Appropriations Committee approved a budget plan Thursday that would increase state spending by about $255 million this year.

The committee’s budget follows a recommendation by Gov. Nathan Deal for state spending to grow to about $18.6 billion for the 2012 fiscal year. The two budgets differed over the use of federal funds, with the committee in favor of more spending. The committee’s total budget equals $39.6 billion, compared with the $38.4 billion in Deal’s plan.

Transportation and education programs would get some of the largest increases under the committee’s plan.

Spending for transportation would increase by about $700 million. The committee also specified spending for certain projects, such as $300 million toward a toll road for Cobb and Cherokee counties and $200 million for airport aid projects.

The Education Department would get about $14 million more in state money, including funding for charter school systems, a pay bump for some certified math and science teachers, and $7 million to school districts projected to receive less money under changes to the funding formula that would go into effect next year.

Other agencies would receive less money, such as a $15 million reduction in benefits paid out by the Department of Community Health.

The 2012 fiscal year began July 1 and ends June 30.

The full House could vote on the plan as early as Friday.

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/2jXHaYdQyMk/house-spending-plan-would-1328645.html

Categories : Trucking & Freight

DES MOINES — A bill banning red-light and speed cameras in the
state sailed through a House committee Thursday and is on its way
to the floor for a vote.

House File 2048 passed 15-6, with some Democrats joining the
majority Republicans.

But even those who voted against the ban supported an amendment
that would have put several restrictions on how municipalities
could use the cameras. They include limiting the amount a city
could charge for a camera-produced citation and specifications on
the size and location of warning signs.

Rep. Chris Hall, D-Sioux City, joined the majority Republicans
with his yes vote. He said he prefers compromise legislation that
would allow cities to have cameras as opposed to an outright ban
but “the political reality is for a statewide ban right now.”

Sioux City, which charges people $195 for red-light infractions
caught on camera, has been brought up several times during the
debate as a city that abuses the cameras.

“The fees are too steep in Sioux City,” Hall said. “I agree with
the mayor that they should be lowered.”

Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott has said he’d introduce a measure
this month to lower the fines to $100.

The state legislation was amended in committee to clarify that
cameras on police vehicles and school buses would not be affected
by the ban.

Rep. Jim Lykam, a Democrat from Davenport who voted against the
ban, said he preferred the compromise legislation that was modeled
on Davenport’s use of the cameras. Fines in Davenport are capped at
$65 and the money from fines goes to public safety.

“In my town, we have drive-by shootings, muggings and
robberies,” Lykam said. “I’d rather have the police working on
those than speeders and red lights.”

Walt Rogers, R-Cedar Falls, sponsor of the legislation, said
everyone is interested in keeping the roads safe but that there are
better ways to do it than by posting cameras all over cities and

He said the use of cameras reminded him of a Sylvester Stallone
movie, “Demolition Man,” in which Stallone’s character gets fined
for swearing.

“Our freedoms are taken away bit by bit,” he said. “That idea ofArticle source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/2BiXFgU3h0c/article_0fa0ff44-3fd2-5f5d-bfe1-d0c63c09b147.html

Categories : Trucking & Freight

The Florida Senate’s plan to reform the no-fault auto insurance program has already achieved what its counterpart in the House has not: unanimous approval from a committee.

Insurers and business groups have sided in favor of the House proposal, while Democrats, consumer advocacy organizations and attorneys have lined up against it. But the Senate legislation received almost universal support from them all in its first committee hearing Thursday.

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who sponsored the legislation, said reducing PIP fraud was his primary goal, but he also did not want to penalize people who file legitimate claims and receive treatment from reputable healthcare professionals.

“Let’s make sure that insurance companies are paying them in a timely manner with a reasonable rate,” he told the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

The Senate plan would exclude massage therapy and acupuncture from the list of allowable treatments under the personal injury protection, or PIP, system. It also would tighten licensing requirements for medical clinics, require long-form crash reports when someone is injured in an accident and would create a statewide organization to help fight PIP abuses.

The House’s approach is much more controversial, mainly because it would require people injured in an auto accident to be treated first at an emergency room. It also would cap attorneys’ fees and allow insurance companies to examine policyholders and doctors under oath when investigating claims.

Several speakers representing insurers suggested changes, such as removing chiropractors from the list of medical professionals that can provide PIP treatments or limiting “multiplier” provisions that allow attorneys to collect higher fees.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said the plan received bipartisan support in the Senate committee because it reflects a series of compromises that appeases all sides while leaving them wanting more.

“People weren’t totally unhappy, and people weren’t totally happy,” she said. “That means it’s a good bill.”

The proposal must be approved by another committee before it reaches the Senate floor. If the two chambers cannot agree on an identical version

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/UjhJewfJ284/pip-insurance-reform-advances.html

Categories : Trucking & Freight

It’s a question that tests the Florida Legislature’s aversion to new taxes and its pro-business bona fides: Should state law require online retailers to pay sales taxes?

State legislators on Thursday began their push to do just that, moving forward on a pair of proposals that would force online-only companies—and people who buy goods on the Internet—to pay the state’s 6-percent sales tax.

The business community strongly supports the measures, stating that competition from retailers like Amazon and eBay are putting local companies out of business.

“It’s an issue of fairness,” said Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “In our mind, it’s not about the taxes collected, it’s about the competitive nature of our business.”

According to current law, companies that do not have a physical presence in Florida—a store or a warehouse, for example—do not have to collect sales taxes here. With a growing number of states pushing so-called “e-fairness” bills, proponents believe this will be the year that an e-tax law passes.

But the law, in effect, would lead to higher taxes on shoppers, with some estimates pegging the cost as high as $1 billion per year. That’s about $50 for every man, woman and child in Florida, and would fall most heavily on avid online shoppers, costing some hundreds of dollars each year.

One of the proposals, introduced Thursday in a Senate committee, would offset that tax hike with some sort of consumer tax break. Under that proposal, the Department of Revenue would track the amount of money brought in, and consumers would get a tax break roughly equal to that amount.

“It could be the sales tax holiday, it could be lowering the tax rate, it could be implementing any other tax relief that is decided upon by our state,” said Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, who is backing the legislation. Gov. Rick Scott has said he would only consider an online tax if it was revenue neutral,

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/av9JMVWxNQA/lawmakers-weigh-bills-to-create.html

Categories : Trucking & Freight