Alabama OKs farm truck exemptions
By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature agreed Thursday to exempt farm trucks used only within Alabama from some federal transportation regulations, even though it might cause the state to lose federal funds.
The Senate voted 32-0 for the exemption bill and the House concurred 91-3. The bill now goes to the governor for review.
The legislation would exempt mostly farm vehicles of 26,001 pounds or less from some federal motor carrier safety regulations, provided the vehicles are only used for intrastate commerce. Alabama has not yet enforced the regulations, which require detailed record-keeping, limit driving hours and mandate that vehicles display Department of Transportation numbers.
“All of this is onerous to farmers,” said Dave Rickey, spokesman for the Alabama Farmers Federation. He said it makes no sense to require a farmer hauling beans to the local farmers market to comply with the same regulations that apply to 18-wheelers traveling across the country.
The legislation, a compromise worked out between the federation and the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association, specifies that the exemption doesn’t apply to many types of non-farm trucks, including gravel, log, garbage, construction and rental trucks.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has warned that the legislation does not comply with the federal regulations and Alabama stands to lose $4.4 million annually in federal funds that it receives to enforce truck safety laws.
“That’s a little bit of money compared to losing some farmers,” said Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Jasper, who’s a former state agriculture commissioner.
Proponents said there will be time later to change the legislation if the federal government does start to cut off funds.
Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. said the push for the legislation came primarily from small farmers who haul a few cows or a small crop to the local market.
“I’ve heard more about this issue than any other this session,” Folsom said.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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