Thesecond meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Thursday, July 6, 2006, at 10:00 AM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Brett Guthrie, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Brett Guthrie, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Charlie Borders, Robert J (Bob) Leeper, R J Palmer II, Richard "Dick" Roeding, and Gary Tapp; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Carolyn Belcher, Denver Butler, Howard D Cornett, Jim DeCesare, J R Gray, Melvin B Henley, Jimmie Lee, Paul H Marcotte, Charles Miller, Russ Mobley, Lonnie Napier, Rick G Nelson, Don R Pasley, Rick W Rand, Jim Stewart III, and Tommy Turner.
Guests Appearing Before the Committee: Ed O'Daniel, Kentucky Motor Transport Association, Inc.; Commissioner Gregory Howard, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement (KVE), Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. Testifying for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Deputy Commissioner David Jackson, Department of Vehicle Regulation, Commissioner Marc Williams, Department of Highways, Paul Steely, Commissioner, Department of Aviation, and Debra Gabbard, Executive Director, Office of Budget and Fiscal Management.
LRC Staff: John Snyder, Jim Roberts, and Linda Hughes.
Representative Cornett moved to adopt the minutes from the June 6, 2006 Committee meeting, as distributed. Senator Roeding seconded the motion, which passed by voice vote.
The first item on the Committee's agenda was a discussion on motor carrier safety programs and enforcement. Persons testifying on this subject were: Deputy Commissioner David Jackson, Department of Vehicle Regulation, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Commissioner Gregory Howard, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet; and Ed O'Daniel, Kentucky Motor Transport Association, Inc.
Commissioner Jackson spoke of the Cabinet's integrated safety and security enforcement system (ISSES) which includes, radiation detection (detects any radioactive materials passing through the weigh station), thermal imaging (infrared cameras that allow for rapid identification of trucks with brake deficiencies), and license plate readers. He said that in 2007 there will be three additional ISSES units. Working as partners with the Cabinet with ISSES are the Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, Transportation Center (at UK), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Transportation Security Technologies LLC (Transtec).
Commissioner Jackson said that Kentucky's first ISSES installation, on northbound I-75 in Laurel County, is the first commercial integrated system in the nation. And that Kentucky is the lead state with the Department of Homeland Security in its initiative called Southeast Transportation Corridor Pilot (SETCP). This pilot program will use technologies already in place and will be the model for other national corridor projects.
Several committee members questioned the delays occurring during inspections as well as the backups on weigh station ramps and road sides when drivers are pulled over for inspection. Commissioner Howard noted that sometimes there are delays and ramps and road sides become over crowded, however, when this happens security officers are told to motion some of the drivers through. He also noted that the newer portable weighing equipment it takes about three or so minutes to weigh a truck, as opposed to 20 minutes with the older equipment.
Representative DeCesare asked, on average, how long it took a driver to travel through a weigh station. Commissioner Jackson said that trucks routinely travel 5 to 10 miles an hour through a weigh station.
Chairman Guthrie inquired as to the number of resthavens located in the state. Commissioner Howard stated there are currently six resthavens, mostly located in the western part of the state.
Chairman Collins asked if electronic screening allows the state to monitor speeding or the time a driver is off the highway. Commissioner Jackson said yes, however the state does not monitor such situations. Commissioner Jackson noted that speeding between weigh stations could be determined, however Kentucky's current law requires that an officer witness the speeding in order for it to be a violation.
Senator Leeper asked if there were regulations allowing drivers to park on the shoulders of interstate or parkway ramps to rest. Commissioner Howard said no, the act of pulling off to the side of a ramp is illegal, however, policing such occurrences is near impossible with the current number of officers.
Committee members inquired if reducing truck speed limits 5 MPH lower than automobile speed limits reduces accidents. Commissioner Jackson said there is no statistics supporting that notion. A second question was asked about whether confining trucks to the two right lanes of a three or more lane highway reduce accidents. Commissioner Jackson noted that requirement is said to reduce accidents.
Commissioner Howard stated there are three divisions within KVE - Field Operations, Special Operations, and Administrative Services. Each of the three divisions are staffed with sworn law enforcement officers, regulatory weight and safety inspectors, and civilian administrative staff. He said KVE has a total of 240 employees comprised of 162 sworn officers, 34 safety inspectors, and 44 civilians (whose duties may include clerical, computer operations, data entry, and data analysis).
Commissioner Howard said some enforcement strategies conducted by KVE entail multi-state enforcement blitzes, targeted aggressive driving stings, as well as aviation support monitoring. He said that Kentucky is one of a few states that conducts multi-state blitzes. Kentucky conducts these blitzes with all of its surrounding states.
Commissioner Howard said that his sworn officers are highly trained officers who typically patrol Kentucky's roadways, operate weigh facilities and weigh commercial vehicles to determine compliance with legal limits. They also conduct vehicle accident investigations, impound vehicles, make arrests, inspect driver/vehicle records for compliance with licensing, permits, vehicle/driver operation laws and regulations, and enforce state and federal laws.
The Special Operations Division places special emphasis on interdiction of illegal cargo, including drug contraband. During the past two years this division has seized 1,397 lbs. of marijuana, 45 lbs. of cocaine, and has been court awarded $947,164 for monies seized in anti-drug operations. The division also conducts "Desert Snow" interdiction training courses for agencies across the eastern region of the U.S. This training focuses on the interdiction of hazardous devices such as explosives that could be used in terrorist attacks. In 2005, KVE made 1,819 DUI arrests, with increasing incidents of DUI involving drug impairment. Commissioner Howard stated that 21 of the Department's officers have recently been trained in how to better identify and prosecute drug impaired drivers.
Commissioner Howard noted that in 2004 KVE screened 7.5 million trucks at its scale facilities, weighed 90,679 trucks on statistical scales and another 12,742 trucks on portable scales. Its inspectors also conducted over 67,273 safety inspections. He said that Kentucky is second in the nation (Oregon being first) in the number of truck inspections it conducts daily (between 4,000 and 6,000). These inspections verify the trucks credentials, i.e., if the taxes are paid up-to-date, if registration is current, as well as the driver's safety record. Commissioner Howard said that one in 20 drivers, with good driving records, are pulled over for inspection, and about 50% of carriers with marginal safety records are inspected.
Commissioner Howard stated that in 2004, KVE undertook an effort to bring overweight coal trucks into compliance. Department statistics show that in April 2004 of the 340 coal trucks weighed, 262 (or 77.1%) were overweight and in violation. In April 2005, 1167 coal trucks were weighed with 44 (or 3.9%) overweight; and in April 2006, there were 1840 trucks weighed with only 54 (2.9%) found to be in violation.
Commissioner Howard noted that, like Washington State, KVE has put state police in some trucks to witness first hand the difficulties truck drivers experience. State police have traveled with drivers on I-65 from Hardin County to Butler County and on I-71 and I-64 in the Louisville area. He invited Committee members to contact him if they would like to ride with a driver to witness the ever day difficulties drivers experience.
When asked if the use of "non-taxed diesel fuel" is a problem, Commissioner Howard said somewhat, however the fines are steep enough to discourage such use. According to Commissioner Howard the first offense carries a $1,000 fine, second offense is a $2,000 fine, and third and subsequent offenses a $3,000 fine.
Chairman Collins asked if Kentucky has any hill side ramps for truck drivers to use when their brakes fail. Commissioner Howard did not know of any, however Representative Cornett stated there is such a ramp on northbound Highway 23 on Pine Mountain.
When asked how KVE officers check for the use of drugs and what are the penalties, Commissioner Howard noted that in some cases blood test are given, as well as eye detection. The penalties are the same as the DUI penalties.
Representative Miller asked for KVE's breakdown percentage between trucks and cars that are pull over. Commissioner Howard said that that ratio falls around 80/20, with trucks being in the 80% projectile.
Representative Miller asked if KVE officers take into account if workers are present in a work zone when they pull over vehicles. Commissioner Howard said that he did not know, however he would get that information for Representative Miller.
The last person to testifying on this subject was Ed O'Daniel lobbyist for the Kentucky Motor Transport Association, Inc. He said that Motor Transport Association fully endorses the state's process and technology for making Kentucky's highways safer. He noted that truck drivers expect to be pulled over for inspections, they understand that this is a part of their job, and that these inspections help to make their jobs and lives safer as well as the general motoring public. He noted that the days of bad relationships between the trucking industry and the state's enforcement officers are over, and while there will always be a few complaints or problems, for the most part he believes everyone is working together to make the state's highways safer.
Mr. O'Daniel said that Kentucky needs more truck driver resthavens, especially on east to west traveled highways. He noted that this is a critical problem and his association would like to see the state add more resthavens.
Commissioner Paul Steely, Kentucky Department of Aviation gave the Committee an overview of the Six-Year Aviation Plan. Commissioner Steely said in FY 2005 the Department received $92,691,733 in Federal grants. Of that Federal money $69,317,419 went towards Covington, Louisville, and Lexington airports; with the remaining $23,374,314 used for general aviation. Besides the big three airports (CVG, SDF, & LEX) there are 58 public-use general aviation airports, 83 private airstrips, and 54 heliports in Kentucky. Of the surrounding states, Kentucky ranks second to last with its 58 public-used airports: Missouri has 130, Illinois-114, Indiana-95, Ohio-164, West Virginia-35, Virginia-67, and Tennessee has 79 public-used airports. The state currently ranks second to last in the SEC states, and third from last in the nation's airport system.
Commissioner Steely stated that Kentucky has fallen behind its surrounding states, with the exception of West Virginia, in the amount of money devoted to the improvement of airport infrastructure.
Some initiatives the Department is undertaking, Commissioner Steely said, are: a new airport directory (which lists contact personnel, services offered, grand transportation, as well as accommodations); the new Horizons Newsletter (with over 7,000 readers), a departmental website (which lists calendar of events, economic development, education, Airport Zoning Commission, pilot's corner, and safety and inspections), and new airport signs.
Commissioner Steely stated that $48 million is required in FYs 2007-2008 and $36 million for the out four years (FYs 2009-2012). He said current funding availability identifies $36 million in the first two years and $52 million in the out going four years. Projects noted in the Plan include eight airport extensions, seven airport improvements, and four new airports. Also included is asphalt strengthening for fifteen airports and runway widening and strengthening at another four airports.
Commissioner Steely said that general aviation airports will become even more important in the future due to overcrowding at the major airports and the availability of new lower cost light jets. He said that airports in the 21st Century have become what highways were in the 20th Century and railroads were in the 19th Century. He stated that in this century, people will come to realize that an airport is the single most important mile of asphalt in the community, for economical purposes and well as citizen convenience.
In closing, Commissioner Steely stated that the Department's slogan is "A mile of highway will take you one mile....but, a mile of runway will take you anywhere."
Representative Henley asked for a copy of the Department's Six Year Aviation Plan. Commissioner Steely said that he would see that he received a copy.
Senator Roeding stated that Kentucky's current taxes on private aircraft is the single most detrimental law it has on its books, and solicited the members' assistance in removing these detrimental taxes during the next regular session of the General Assembly. Commission Steely stated that this was true and that he knew first hand of one particular Fortune 500 company that chose not to use Kentucky as its home base because of its method of taxation on private aircraft. He said he was sure there were many others, but that he had directly dealt with this one company. He noted that New York recently abolished a similar tax and they are already reaping the benefits from that move.
The last item on the Committee agenda was a review of two Executive Orders (E. O. 2006-682 and E. O. 2006-685). After a brief explanation of the two executive orders, Senator Roeding moved to approve E. O. 2006-685. Representative Cornett seconded the motion, which passed by voice vote. Senator Roeding then moved to approve E. O. 2006-682. Representative Cornett seconded the motion, which passed by voice vote.
Chairman Guthrie informed the members that there will not be an August meeting since the state is hosting the Southern Legislative Conference in Louisville in August and staff is needed for that conference. He informed the members that the Committee's October 3rd meeting would be an out-of-town meeting in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
With no further business before the Committee, the meeting adjourned at 12:30 p.m.