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PA Legislature Passes Transportation Bill with Several Items Affecting Truckers

PA Legislature Passes Transportation Bill with Several Items Affecting Truckers

On Wednesday, July 6, the PA Senate passed SB 1094 (Gebhard), which was already passed by the House and now goes to the Governor for his signature. This bill includes four separate items that PMTA provided input on as they were debated in the General Assembly.

SB 1094 was originally written to modernize the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, with changes supported by PMTA. The bill increases the size of the committee from 28 to 31, with PMTA retaining its two seats for the association. The members of the committee were revised, and representatives of the following were added: PA Manufactured Housing Association, PA Forest Products Association, the motor carrier manufacturing industry, the natural gas industry, the coal industry, and the construction material transportation industry. The bill provides for the filling of vacancies on the committee and allows the members to elect a chairperson and other officers. SB 1094 also revises the duties of the commission, which is now charged with:

  • Studying the feasibility of improving highway safety and freight transportation on highways and developing a policy periodically on the most pressing issues facing motor carrier safety.
  • Examining and recommending motor carrier safety initiatives for strategic plans of PennDOT, the PUC, and the PA State Police.
  • Advising and commenting on all phases of motor carrier safety activities being undertaken or financially assisted by PennDOT and agencies of the Commonwealth.
  • With assistance from PennDOT, providing advice and recommendations to businesses, manufacturers, educational institutions, technology developers, the motor carrier industry, labor communities and local governments related to motor carrier safety.
  • Developing and maintaining a forum for the exchange of ideas, needs, objectives, plans and accomplishments related to motor carrier safety.

SB 1094 was amended to add three additional provisions. First, the bill requires PennDOT to establish a system of staggered apportioned registration renewal in no less than four periods throughout the year, a proposal originally introduced by Rep. David Zimmerman (R-Lancaster). This proposal was supported by PMTA to ease the rush of apportioned renewals and resulting backlog at PennDOT at the end of May every year. PMTA looks forward to working with PennDOT as the new staggered registration system is implemented in the near future.

Second, the bill brings PA into compliance with FMCSA’s final rule regarding Commercial Driver’s Licenses and the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

And finally, SB 1094 provides requirements for the removal of snow and ice from vehicles. A long-time priority of Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh), “Christine’s Law” was named after a woman who was tragically killed when a piece of ice dislodged from a box truck and crashed through her windshield in 2005.

The bill requires that a driver make a reasonable effort to remove snow or ice from a vehicle within 24 hours. However, it provides exceptions for motor carrier vehicles, mass transit vehicles, and buses from this requirement under the following circumstances:

  • The driver is en route to a facility to remove accumulated ice or snow at the time they are stopped by law enforcement; or
  • Compliance with the requirement causes the driver to violate any other federal or state law or regulation regarding workplace safety or would be a threat to the health or safety of the driver.

PMTA had opposed previous versions of this legislation due to unrealistic and unattainable requirements for the removal of snow and ice for motor carriers. However, PMTA worked with Sen. Boscola to address these concerns and appreciates the exceptions that she provided in the legislation.

The snow and ice provisions will be in effect this coming winter.

Governor Wolf is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

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