FARMERS WIN MAJOR VICTORY IN DOT EXEMPTION BILL
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama farmers won a big victory during the final hours of the legislative session when Gov. Bob Riley signed HB 432, also known as the DOT Exemption Bill.
A coalition of the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Cattlemen's Association, Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, Alabama Forestry Association and Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks have worked to get the legislation passed since the Alabama Department of Public Safety announced plans last year to require intrastate registration.
"Our members made passage of this bill a priority for the legislative session," Federation President Jerry A. Newby said. "Farmers from throughout the state, along with Federation staff members, have spent countless hours on the phone and in the state house talking to legislators to educate them about the bill. The overwhelming support we received in both the House and Senate shows that their work paid off.
"We believe these regulations were intended for large commercial trucking operations, not family farmers. The passage of this bill keeps additional burdens and expenses from being placed on farmers who are hauling their own livestock or crops within the state."
Newby said the bill doesn't weaken any existing safety laws, but exempts farmers from added expenses for signs, medical cards, log books and other new DOT requirements, which would not have resulted in any added benefit to public safety. The bill states "Nothing in this act shall be interpreted to exempt any person from obligations to operate a motor vehicle in a safe and proper manner or to observe the rules of the road."
The House passed an earlier version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, which would have excluded all agricultural trucks as well as some other vehicles up to 26,001 pounds from U.S. Department of Transportation intrastate registrations. The final version of the bill limits the exemptions only to agricultural trucks. Sen. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, sponsored the bill in the Senate, which voted 33-0 in favor of the final bill. The House voted last week to concur with the Senate. That vote was 101-2.
Last year, the Alabama Department of Public Safety mailed more than 80,000 letters to farmers and others who have larger pickup trucks registered in the state, telling them they had until July 1, 2006, to comply with the regulations. Riley postponed the implementation of the requirements on two occasions.
The bill will take effect on the first day of the third month following its passage (Sept. 1).