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ACT NO. 154

(H. 188)

Diesel Fuel Tax; Trucks; Overlength

I. Summary of truck sections:

(a) Authorizes the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to contract with an electronic truck permitting service which may issue single trip permits for travel by vehicles which are not greater than 72 feet long, to and from a Vermont facility on routes approved by the Agency of Transportation. The permitting service is authorized to collect a fee.

(b) Prohibits issuing overweight permits to vehicles registered in another state or province unless that state or province issues similar permits to vehicles registered in Vermont. Additionally, all overweight permits previously issued to vehicles registered in another state or province shall be revoked on July 1, 2000, if reciprocity is not granted to Vermont registered vehicles.

(c) Provides for the issuance of overlength permits for vehicles having a maximum distance between the kingpin of a semitrailer and the center of the rearmost axle of 43 feet, as follows:

(1) For vehicles with a trailer or semitrailer longer than 68 feet but less than 72 feet off the statutorily established truck network and the distance between the steering axle and the rearmost tractor axle is 23 feet or less. These vehicles may be operated with a single or multiple trip permit issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) at no cost or by a permitting service, for a fee, and on routes approved by the Agency of Transportation.

(2) For vehicles with a trailer or semitrailer longer than 68 feet but less than 72 feet off the truck network and the distance between the steering axle and the rearmost axle is more than 23 feet. These vehicles may be operated with a single trip overlength permit issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles at no cost on routes approved by the Agency of Transportation.

(3) For vehicles with a trailer or semitrailer longer than 72 feet anywhere in the state on highways approved by the agency. These vehicles may be operated with a single trip permit issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles for a fee of $20.00. There are insurance requirements for vehicles that are 100 feet long or longer.

(d) Authorizes the legislative body of a municipality to request help from the agency of transportation in establishing a truck route. The agency is directed to report on the feasibility of the desired route, the estimated cost and appropriate funding mechanisms.

(e) Prohibits the operation of vehicles without a trailer or semitrailer which are longer than 46 feet, except with the permission of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.

(f) Authorizes the operation without a permit, of vehicles with a trailer or semitrailer not longer than 72 feet on the truck network which consists of the following: U.S. Route 2 between the New Hampshire state line and the junction of U.S. Route 5; U.S. Route 2 from the junction of exit 21 on I-91 to exit 8 on Interstate 89; U.S. Route 2 between the New York state line and VT Route 78; VT Route 2A; U.S. Route 4 from the New York state line to the junction of VT Route 100 south; U.S. Route 5 from the junction of U.S. Route 2 to the junction of exit 20 of I-91; U.S. Route 5 between I-91 at exit 22 to the south entrance of the St. Johnsbury-Lyndonville industrial park; U.S. Route 5 south from I-91 at exit 22 to the intersection of St. Johnsbury Railroad Street and Hastings Hill Street; U.S. Route 7; VT Route 9 from the New York state line to the junction of exit 2 on I-91; VT Route 9 from the junction of exit 3 on I-91 to the New Hampshire state line; VT Route 18 from U.S. Route 2 to the New Hampshire state line; VT Route 22A between U.S. Route 4 and U.S. Route 7; VT Route 78; VT Route 103; VT Route 105 from the junction of U.S. Route 7 to the junction of VT Route 100, then southerly on VT Route 100 to the junction of VT Route 100 and VT Route 14, then easterly on VT Route 14 to the junction of VT Route 14 and U.S. Route 5, then northerly on U.S. Route 5 to the junction of U.S. Route 5 and VT Route 105, then easterly on VT Route 105 from the junction of U.S. Route 5 to the New Hampshire border; VT Route 104 from VT Route 105 to I-89 at exit 19; VT Route 253 from the New Hampshire border to the Canadian border; VT Route 289; and U.S. Route 302. The commissioner is authorized to place special restrictions applying to motor vehicles on any route of the truck network when, in his or her opinion, the restrictions would provide for the safe operation of all vehicles on the route.

(g) Provides for the operation of commercial vehicles on U.S. Route 4 as follows: vehicles with a trailer or semitrailer longer than 68 feet but not longer than 72 feet may be operated with a single or multiple trip overlength permit issued at no cost by the department of motor vehicles or, for a fee, by an electronic permitting service on U.S. Route 4 from the New Hampshire state line to the junction of VT Route 100 south, provided the distance from the kingpin of the semitrailer to the center of the rearmost axle is not greater than 43 feet.

(h) Establishes a statewide municipal commercial motor vehicle enforcement fund. Municipalities may apply to the commissioner of motor vehicles for grants not exceeding $12,000 annually. The funds may be used for training of municipal law enforcement officers for commercial vehicle enforcement, for temporary replacement officers for those officers receiving training and for other commercial vehicles enforcement activities approved by the commissioner. The amount of $200,000 was appropriated for this statewide fund.

(i) Requires that all accidents involving a commercial motor vehicle or any vehicle displaying a hazardous materials placard be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

(j) Directs the Agency of Transportation to prioritize the location of safety improvements on the truck network and to report to the House and Senate Committees on Transportation, and to annually report to these committees on the status of improvements made to the network.

(k) Provides that the fine imposed for speeding violations involving a commercial vehicle operating in excess of 15 miles per hour over the speed limit shall be one and one-half times the fine imposed for speeding violations in other vehicles.

(l) Directs the Department of Public Safety to provide the Department of Motor Vehicles, by January 1, 2001, with a detailed report on the use of Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) funds used for commercial motor vehicle enforcement. A copy of the report is to be filed with the House and Senate Committees on Transportation.

(m) Directs the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Public Safety to develop, by July 1, 2000, a protocol for MCSAP certified inspectors to respond to commercial motor vehicle accidents in the state.

(n) Directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct an examination into the technology that exists nationwide for commercial motor vehicle enforcement and make recommendations to the legislature by December 1, 2000.

(o) Directs the Agency of Transportation to install weigh-in-motion sensors on each route of the truck network and on U.S. Route 4.

(p) Directs the Agency of Transportation to evaluate the findings of the freight study and report to the legislature by January 15, 2001. The report shall recommend any changes which may be necessary for Vermont’s truck policy.

(q) Authorizes four new classified positions of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Inspector for fiscal year 2001 and one new classified position of Transportation Technician IV. The appropriations act provided funding for a total of five new positions (four new Inspector positions and one previously authorized, but unfunded position).

(r) Directs the Joint Fiscal Office to evaluate the motor vehicle fine revenue distribution process whereby municipalities share a portion of the revenue derived from penalties imposed by the judicial bureau for speeding violations on state highways resulting from local enforcement and for height, width and length violations on town highways resulting from the enforcement by towns within the jurisdiction of the town. A report is to be submitted to the Senate and House Committees on Transportation.

(s) Provides that any additional revenue in FY2001 above the amount necessary to meet the transportation fund appropriations and transfers at the adjournment of the

2000 session of the General Assembly shall be allocated to a special account within the transportation fund and reserved for appropriations in FY2002 for improvements to U.S. Route 4 from the New Hampshire state line to the junction of VT Route 100 south and the truck network. An amount equal to this amount shall be allocated annually from the transportation fund to the special account, and reserved for appropriations for improvements to these highways for fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

(t) Increases the fines for overweight violations by 50 percent.

Effective Dates:

(a) The provisions of this act dealing with electronic permitting services, overweight permit reciprocity, agency of transportation assistance to municipalities for truck routes, the statewide municipal enforcement fund, increased speeding fines for trucks, weigh-in-motion sensors, authorized positions and increased overweight fines, take effect on July 1, 2000.

(b) The provisions dealing with truck permits and the operation of trucks on and off the truck network take effect on August 1, 2000.

(c) The provision requiring the filing of commercial vehicle accident reports takes effect on October 1, 2000.

(d) The remaining truck sections take effect from passage.

II. Summary of diesel tax sections (effective July 1, 2000):

Secs. 1 through 13 of the act simplify the collection of and reporting of diesel fuel tax. This will be accomplished by taxing the clear, undyed diesel fuel at the distributor level, before it is sold to the dealer, and eliminating tax free sales to the end user. Under prior law, diesel fuel was taxed at the pump in the amount of 16 cents per gallon (plus 1 cent petroleum cleanup), with certain users then needing to file quarterly use reports with the Department of Motor Vehicles and paying an additional 9-cent surcharge. The surcharge was required of all diesel vehicles traveling in the state with a registered weight of 26,001 pounds or greater, and from all Vermont registered diesel vehicles with a registered weight of 10,001 pounds or greater.

The act will increase the tax to 25 cents (plus 1 cent petroleum cleanup), from 16-cents and eliminate the need to pay a surcharge when filing quarterly use reports. Also, reporting will be required only of those carriers registered under the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA), as all other vehicles will be paying full tax at the time of purchase. IFTA carriers will be required to file an account for fuel used or purchased in other jurisdictions. Carriers not belonging to IFTA no longer need to report on a quarterly basis, thus reducing their paperwork, which in turn reduces the work load in the DMV unit which processes the fuel use reports.

This act also eliminates the disparity for Vermont registered vehicles between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds, which were required to pay the 9-cent surcharge that similar vehicles registered in other jurisdictions did not have to pay.

In an effort to offset the increase in fuel price to owners of diesel-powered pleasure vehicles, the act decreases the annual registration fee for such vehicles from $43.00 to $26.00 and the biennial fee from $79.00 to $48.00. The annual $17.00 savings will most likely make up for the extra five cents per gallon that operators now will be paying. In addition, those who have paid a biennial registration, and still have at least one year remaining, will receive a refund of $30.00.

III. Summary of enforcement provisions for diesel and gas tax (effective upon passage):

Secs. 36-46. These sections add to the gas and diesel tax chapters the enforcement provisions which exist in the sales tax, rooms and meals tax and income tax withholding chapters of Title 32:

Sec. 36. Adds a bulk sale provision similar to 32 V.S.A. § 3260 to the diesel fuel tax. (It includes a lease as a business transfer, as in Sec. 3 of the act.)

Sec. 37. Allows the imposition of personal liability on distributors who fail to remit the diesel tax. The model for this language is 32 V.S.A. § 5844(a), personal liability for income tax withholding.

Sec. 38. Allows DMV to place liens on property of distributors who failed to remit diesel tax and were found personally liable. The model is 32 V.S.A. § 9818 (sales and use tax lien provision).

Sec. 39. Increases the $100,000 cap in the current bond provision under the gas tax to a $400,000 maximum. This bond must be obtained before commencing business.

Sec. 40. Allows the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to charge the delinquent taxpayer for lien fees under the diesel tax chapter. The model is 32 V.S.A. § 3262.

Sec. 41. Allows the state to bring an action to enforce a liability for gas tax. This already exists with respect to diesel tax in 23 V.S.A. § 3022, and that language is simply added to the gas tax chapter by this section of the act.

Sec. 42. Adds the current delinquent bond provision in 23 V.S.A. § 3011 (diesel fuel tax) into the gas tax chapter. Allows the commissioner to require a bond where a licensee becomes delinquent. The bond may be in an amount deemed necessary to protect revenues, but may not exceed the total potential liability of the taxpayer.

Secs. 43-46. These sections bring the same provisions as added above to the diesel chapter into the gas tax law for: bulk sale and personal liability provisions, lien authority, and authority to charge for lien filing.

Effective Date: May 29, 2000