Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday, June 7, 2011, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Hubert Collins, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Jimmy Higdon, Paul Hornback, Bob Leeper, John Schickel, Brandon Smith, Damon Thayer, Johnny Ray Turner, and Mike Wilson; Representatives John A. Arnold Jr., Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Will Coursey, Jim DeCesare, Richard Henderson, Jimmie Lee, Donna Mayfield, Charles Miller, Terry Mills, Lonnie Napier, Rick G. Nelson, Tanya Pullin, Marie Rader, Steven Rudy, John Short, Arnold Simpson, Fitz Steele, Jim Stewart III, and Tommy Turner.
Guests: Tom Zawacki, Commissioner, Motor Vehicle Regulation, Rick Taylor, Deputy Commissioner, Motor Vehicle Regulation, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Winn Turney, Commissioner, Craig Farmer, Department of Aviation, Russ Romine, Executive Advisor, State Highway Engineer, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Presentation from the Transportation Cabinet regarding implementation of Senate Bill 79
Tom Zawacki, Commissioner, and Rick Taylor, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Vehicle Regulation, Transportation Cabinet, discussed a brief overview of the implementation of Senate Bill 79. Mr. Zawacki stated that SB 79 was originally introduced because some neighboring jurisdictions, most notably Illinois, do not exempt farm registered vehicles from the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) requirements. Prior to the passage of SB 79, Kentucky's lowest registration weight level for farm vehicles was 38,000 lbs; because of their farm registration these vehicles are exempt from the IFTA requirements while operating in Kentucky. The IFTA articles of agreement, however, leave it up to each state as to whether it will exempt farm trucks. Under IFTA rules, vehicles with a registered gross vehicle weight exceeding 26,000 lbs are considered subject to IFTA requirements. Because the weight printed on the registration receipt for Kentucky farm trucks was 38,000 lbs, any farm truck, even pickups, were subject to IFTA requirements if another state did not exempt farm vehicles like Kentucky.
The result was that Illinois enforcement officers engaged in an enforcement campaign on the road farmers need to take to get from Kentucky to Missouri. "Violators" were cited for not being complaint with IFTA and generally assessed a $1,000 fine.
With the implementation of SB 79 a third registration level for farm trucks has been added. The three weight classes are now; Level 1: 26,000 lbs or less; Level 2: 26,001 lbs - 38,000 lbs; Level 3: 38,001 lbs - 80,000 lbs (levels limited to farm use only). The Automated Vehicle Information System (AVIS) changes necessary to implement this change was finalized on April 25, 2011. County clerks were also notified of the change on April 25, 2011, and there is no state fee required to update the registration receipt.
In response to Representative Collins, Rick Taylor stated that Illinois has been the state that there was the most trouble and their revenue officers were made aware of the changes of SB 79 and they agreed to suspend enforcement until Kentucky could fully implement the changes.
Mr. Taylor stated an additional issue that has arisen recently with Illinois is that they are citing Kentucky farm registered vehicles hauling horse trailers for pleasure riding. Illinois is stating that is an improper use of the farm tag. Mr. Taylor stated the cabinet has spoken with Illinois and that the provisions of the farm tags on the lower weights state that they may be used for farming, but do not exclusively have to be used for farming.
In response to Representative Arnold, Mr. Taylor stated that as far as the fuel tax is concerned as long as the vehicle hauling a trailer is registered at the 26,000 lb or below level and stay under that weight, that vehicle is not subject to the IFTA tax. He also stated that constituents will need to get an updated registration receipt stating that their vehicle is within the 26,000 lb or less category rather than the 38,000 lb category. That new receipt would be their proof that they are not subject to the IFTA tax.
Mr. Zawacki continued with his presentation and stated that another major change contained in SB 79 was the exemption to three parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for intrastate vehicles engaged in farming or agricultural related activities with a gross combined weight of 26,000 lbs or less. Since the enactment of the legislation the Department of Vehicle Regulation did not have to make any changes, Kentucky State Police and the Department of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement have provided training to all field personnel in March explaining the impact of SB 79.
In response to Representative Collins, Mr. Zawacki stated that there needs to be something done to make sure the citizens of the commonwealth are made aware of the changes of SB 79. He stated that the department plans on having discussions with Kentucky Farm Bureau and cooperative extension offices to get the word out.
Mr. Zawacki stated there are some additional changes made with the implementation of SB 79 the first of which was expanding the planting and harvesting season. The season was previously dated from March 1 through November 23 of each year and has been changed to January 1 through December 31 of each year to provide an hours of service exemption within a 100 air mile radius from the source of the commodities or distribution point. He explained that SB 79 also allows transportation of farm equipment on an annual permit from dealership to dealership aligns the definition of interstate commerce and intrastate commerce with 49 CFR Part 309.5.
Representative Arnold asked if with the new changes farmers were able to drive from one field to another without being stopped by the Department of Transportation officers, Mr. Taylor stated that yes they were exempt from normal hours of service rules.
In response to Senator Hornback, Mr. Taylor stated that as far as a combine is concerned farm to farm movement does not require any additional permits, but that the farmer needs to follow safety guidelines, which include escort vehicles and lighting. He stated that if a farm implement is under 12 feet they do not need an escort vehicle, anything over 12 feet requires an escort vehicle front and rear. There is no special lighting that is required currently.
Presentation from the Department of Aviation on Kentucky's Airports
Winn Turney, Commissioner, Department of Aviation discussed activities of the department. Kentucky has recently sold two aircraft out of the state's fleet of six to help bring in over $230,000 of revenue to the state. The Department of Aviation recently was a part of a National Level Exercise which is a preventative exercise in order to assess the state's preparedness for a major earthquake. The department is also part of fire support for the Department of Fish and Wildlife and drug enforcement with the Kentucky State Police. He stated that currently the Department of Aviation has an ongoing project called AWAS (Automated Weather Announcement System). The department is currently planning on placing twelve within the state. The AWAS system is meant so that pilots can call and check on the weather in a certain area to decide if he is qualified to fly in those conditions.
In response to Representative Collins, Mr. Turney stated that the Department of Aviation's funding comes from the Road Fund, jet fuel sales tax and from bond sales. Craig Farmer noted that for 2011 the Department's budget was around 10 million dollars.
In response to Representative Collins, Russ Romine stated that the previously the jet fuel tax was the primary funding for the department and in the past several years through the budget bill there have been transfers of the jet fuel tax to the general fund. Mr. Romine also stated that as money from the Jet Fuel Tax has been transferred out the money has been replaced with spending authority to road fund dollars and in 2012 will be replaced with bond sale proceeds.
In response to Representative Collins, Craig Farmer said that there is currently a process in place that if a need is identified, either the airport boards or the consulting engineers can submit a project application for consideration. After the application is submitted the department will wait from approval from the Secretary's office for funding approval.
In response to Representative Collins, Mr. Turney stated that Paducah, Owensboro, Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati currently have aircraft that carry passengers. Also, to provide passenger services an airport has to get federal approval and meet certain guidelines.
In response to Senator Harris, Mr. Farmer stated that revenue could easily double or triple if the one million dollar cap per taxpayer on jet fuel was removed. He said that Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati hit the cap around mid February.
In response to Senator Harris, Mr. Romine said that there was a 9 million dollar bond issued for the extension of the Bluegrass Field runway which was one-third the price of the actual project.
In response to Senator Thayer, Mr. Turney stated there are policies and procedures that have to be followed in order to use an aircraft owned by the state. He said there are forms that need to be filled out and approval from the Governor's office. When an aircraft is requested by the Governor's office it is then billed back to the Governor's office for fuel, flight time, and pilots.
In response to Senator Higdon, Mr. Turney said the average cost of the AWAS system is approximately $160,000 each. These systems are used strictly for pilots to know what weather conditions are in a certain area. He said that right now there are around 37 statewide.
In response to Senator Higdon, Mr. Farmer stated that the trend in pleasure travel has gone down, but corporate travel has stayed steady.
In response to Representative Henderson, Mr. Farmer stated that if an emergency arises at any airport in the state of Kentucky, that airport could submit a project evaluation and have that project rushed through the system so work could begin to fix whatever emergency has arisen.
In response to Representative Collins, Mr. Turney stated that in the situation where an accident happens at an airport the FAA will do an investigation. The Department of Aviation will then go and make sure there has been no damage to any buildings or damage to the runways so that it can be repaired.
In response to Representative Collins, Mr. Farmer stated that runway extensions do not always have to be approved on the federal level unless there is funding from the federal level, if Kentucky has the funding the project can be approved within the state only.
Before adjourning the meeting Chairman Harris informed the members that its next meeting would be held on July 5th, at 1:00 PM in Frankfort.
With no further business before the Committee, the meeting adjourned at 2:20 PM.