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Transportation bill addresses weight variance, property rights issues
Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently signed legislation that funds Ohio’s Transportation and Public Safety departments as well as other projects related to transportation and infrastructure. Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) was successful in advocating for amendments to the bill that align with several of the organization’s priority issues and general policy positions.
- Elimination of the late registration fee on seasonal and farm vehicles.
- Expansion of the definition of farm commodities as it pertains to gross vehicle weight variances, to include manure, turf, sod and silage. These new commodities are permitted only a 5 percent overweight variance, compared to the 7.5 percent variance in existing law.
- Agricultural commodities that already receive the 7.5 percent gross vehicle weight variance will no longer be assessed fines if the per-axel weight exceeds the allowed amount, so long as the total vehicle weight does not exceed the permitted weight and 7.5 percent variance.
- Newly defined agricultural commodities (manure, turf, sod and silage) that receive the 5 percent gross vehicle weight variance will not be assessed a fine if the per-axel weight exceeds the allowed amount, so long as the total vehicle weight does not exceed the permitted weight and 5 percent variance.
- Replaces the definition of timber with a definition of forest product, which includes logs, chips, sawdust, mulch, bark, pulpwood, biomass and firewood in regards to the gross vehicle weight variance.
In response to a proposal by Kasich to develop “public private partnerships,” OFBF weighed in to ensure that eminent domain authority was not abused in the pursuit of these projects.
“Through amendments drafted by a coalition including Senate leadership, the governor’s office and OFBF staff, we were able to narrow the scope of projects and provide specific safeguards to protect private property rights to align with the original intent of the governor’s proposal,” said Beth Vanderkooi, OFBF director of state policy.
An additional amendment addressing ditch maintenance funding and procedures was amended into the legislation with the support of OFBF.