Last Thursday, the full Senate passed HB676, which raises the speed limit for trucks on most state highways to 70 mph in the daytime and 65 mph at night. The proposed uniform speed limit would apply on state and U.S. highways outside urban districts.
The Senate version added some amendments to the House version, so it must go back to the House for approval of the amendments.
The most important Senate amendment to be considered by the House is one that would allow county commissioners to reduce the current speed limit on farm-to-market or ranch-to-market roads that don't have improved shoulders. The proposed higher uniform speed limit wouldn't apply to these roads. Under the amendment, their limits could be further reduced to 60 mph in the daytime and 55 mph at night.
Because the bill passed both houses with virtually no opposition, Gov. George W. Bush is expected to sign the measure into law.
The Missouri-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn., which lobbied hard for the bill, credits the actions of individual owner-operators for its passage. "There were so many truckers in Texas that were following this legislation and that were making the phone calls and writing the letters," says OOIDA spokesman Todd Spencer. "While it may be hokey to say, we see every day the examples where making the phone calls and writing the letters makes all the difference at the state level."
OOIDA has also had success this legislative session in lobbying for uniform speed limits in Michigan and against higher trucker-only speeding fines in Missouri and Arkansas. OOIDA was typically lobbying against the American Trucking Assns. affiliated state trucking associations in those states. The owner-operator group's success "is a testament to just how effective individuals can be once they realize the power that is there by simply making the system work," Spencer says.
The Texas Motor Transportation Assn. did not back the Texas speed limit bill. According to the Associated Press, while the group favors uniform speed limits, it would have preferred to have the speed limits for cars lowered to match those for trucks.