Animal transport weight exceptions amended, advanced

Certain agricultural vehicles would be exempt from weight and load limitations under a bill advanced from general file March 9.

LB977, introduced by Papillion Sen. Jim Smith, would exempt implements of animal husbandry—tractors, fertilizer spreaders and mixer-feed trucks—from weight and load limitations on Nebraska highways. The exemption would not apply to vehicles on the interstate.

Smith said farm equipment is bigger and heavier today than when the weight limitations initially were approved.

“Occasional use of the roadways is incidental to the agriculture industry and [farmers and ranchers] should not be vulnerable to hefty fines simply for doing their job,” he said. “[LB977] strikes an important balance between protecting the roads from damage and allowing our agriculture industry to operate efficiently.”

The animal husbandry exemption would not apply in any instance where such an implement crosses a bridge or culvert.

A Transportation and Telecommunications Committee amendment incorporated provisions of LB996, originally introduced by Henderson Sen. Curt Friesen.

Currently, vehicle manufacturers are prohibited from owning an interest in or operating or controlling a franchise, franchisee or consumer care facility. As amended, LB996 would exclude manufacturers that own or operate two or fewer dealerships in Nebraska, have owned or operated a warranty repair or service facility as of Jan. 1, 2016, and manufacture engines installed in vehicles with a gross weight rating of more than 16,000 pounds.

The bill also would incorporate provisions of six additional bills, including:
• LB799, originally introduced by Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz, which would authorize the use of funds collected under the Nebraska Transportation Act to be used for the purchase, replacement or rebuilding of public transportation vehicles;
• LB844, originally introduced by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, which would create a breast cancer awareness license plate to be available Jan. 1, 2017;
• LB872, originally introduced by Gretna Sen. John Murante, which would allow vehicles operated by the state Department of Roads, as well as local authorities, to use blue and amber flashing lights when engaged in the inspection, construction, repair or maintenance of highways;
• LB918, introduced by Murante, which would retain 1 percent of proceeds from the motor vehicle tax to fund the replacement and ongoing maintenance of a state vehicle title and registration system;
• LB946, introduced by Smith, which would authorize the chair of the Motor Vehicle Industry Licensing Board to modify, approve or reject any board action in which a controlling number of board members are active participants in the relevant market; and
• LB989, introduced by Murante, which would decrease from 500 to 250 the number of prepaid applications required to issue a qualified organization’s specialty license plate and would allow for electronic renewal and replacement of commercial driver licenses.

The committee amendment was adopted on a 38-0 vote.

Following the adoption of a technical amendment, senators advanced the bill to select file on a 39-0 vote.

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