10 months ago


By Cathy Gautreaux,

By Cathy Gautreaux, Executive Director, LMTA We started the 2016 Legislative Session knowing that we would be faced with two pretty significant trucking issues returning from the previous year: haz-mat reporting and waste tire fees. But, the most significant issue for all Louisianans was the looming budget deficit – still a problem even after the special sessions earlier in the year. Here is a list of the most significant legislation specifically impacting the trucking industry: Haz-Mat Reporting. In 2015, LMTA requested legislation after several motor carriers received thousands of dollars in fines for reporting minimal releases of hazardous materials, i.e., 8 ounces of household paint spilled on a dock at a truck terminal. The result was the creation of a task force to examine the hazardous materials reporting law and make recommendations to the Legislature. This year, we successfully passed legislation to implement the recommendation of that task force. Act 632 (HB 625 – Rep. Terry Landry/Sen. Page Cortez) of the 2016 legislature prohibits the Louisiana State Police from issuing a violation or a fine to a motor carrier for careless handling of hazardous materials if reporting the release was not required by state law. (Effective on August 1, 2016.) Waste Tire Fee Increase. For the second consecutive year, LMTA has been successful in defeating a proposed increase in the fees paid on the purchase of new tires under the state’s Waste Tire Program as administered by the Dept. of Environmental Quality. The trucking industry does not feel that fees should be increased until administrative issues are addressed and recent changes to the program are fully implemented. We fully expect another attempt to raise the waste tire fees next year. REAL ID. Act 505 (HB 702 – Rep. Jimmy Harris/Sen. Troy Carter) allows Louisiana to issue drivers' licenses and special identification cards in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. The legislation allows a person the choice of obtaining a REAL ID compliant drivers license or special identification card. Truck Permit Task Force. HCR 105 (Rep. Kenny Havard) created the Special Permit Task Force to make recommendations related to the issuance of special permits by LA-DOTD for oversize and overweight truck movement on state highways. LMTA is an official member of this Task Force. LMTA has established a special committee to examine the current oversize and overweight permit regulations with the intent of assisting the state in simplifying the regulations, identifying a statewide system of preferred roadways for oversize loads, and submitting legislation to revise the regulations. CNG Truck Weight Tolerance. ACT 279 (HB 591- Rep. Terry Landry/Sen. Gary Smith) provides for a 2000 lb. weight tolerance for vehicles operated by an engine fueled primarily by compressed or liquefied natural gas. (Effective August 1, 2016.) LPSC Inspection & Supervision Fee Increase. ACT 433 (HB 431- Rep. Thomas Carmody/Sen. Eric LaFleur) increased the quarterly fee per $1,000 of gross receipts for certain motor carriers and public utilities for the inspection, control, and supervision of their business services and rates by the LPSC. (Effective July 1, 2016.) For the foreseeable future, the Governor and the Louisiana Legislature will be faced with the daunting task of providing services to the public while operating under the limitations of a balanced budget …especially now in the wake of the flood disaster. K 6 ❘ Open Road Q3 2016

By Steve Wheeler The newly-appointed secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development realizes he has a big job ahead of him. For years, Louisiana and the rest of the nation has neglected and underfunded transportation infrastructure, and now it’s time to pay the piper. “My job is, first and foremost…to make a case for increased revenue in transportation,” said Dr. Shawn Wilson, speaking at the 76th Annual LMTA Convention. Wilson said he’s already logged thousands of miles “traveling the state and talking to anyone and everyone who will listen. We have to make a case to our communities that transportation is important,” he said. “As a state and as a country we’ve been in denial about the costs of infrastructure,” the DOTD secretary said, adding he doesn’t want a patchwork solution, but wants to “make the policy sustainable.” Wilson said he plans to maintain a balanced transportation policy that address maintenance as well as new projects, but finding additional sources of money will be critical to both. Wilson said he will continue to seek funds from federal, state and local sources to move Louisiana forward with a safe and innovative multimodal transportation system. “This governor and I have championed infrastructure,” Wilson said, adding Louisiana has secured $60 million out of $100 million sought in a FASTLANE grant application to the USDOT. The money will be used to help widen Interstate 10 between I-49 and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. Audience members questioned the secretary about chronic bottlenecks on the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge and near the port of New Orleans. “We’re waiting” for solutions, said one audience member. “I hear you,” the secretary replied. Wilson said he understands frustration with traffic bottlenecks, but said DOTD dollars are stretched thin. “We’re not bloated,” he added. “We’re not wasting dollars.” The department now leases its vehicles and has gotten rid of nearly 500 cars, he said. Of the department’s $1.7 billion budget, only 4.6 percent goes to administration and support services, Wilson said, while 31.4 percent goes to operations and maintenance of roads and bridges, and 38.2 percent goes to road and bridge construction projects. “It’s quite false to say that only 11 percent is going to construction,” he said. The DOTD budget to buy new equipment this year? “Zero,” Wilson said. Wilson said DOTD is responsible for 16,645 miles of roadway that includes 927 miles of interstate highways and more than 12,000 bridges in the state, including 1,421 old timber bridges. About 75 percent of those timber bridges are either posted or closed. “You can have a great road but if you don’t have a good bridge you’re not going to cross it,” Wilson said. Wilson said one of the likely ways to increase DOTD funding is an increase in the state’s fuel tax, but added, “We believe that a gas tax alone is not the best way” to raise all the needed funds. The newly-appointed Governor’s Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment will be looking at ways to come up with additional funds, Wilson said. LMTA’s Greg Morrison is a member of the task force. K Open Road Q3 2016 ❘ 7

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