SECOND REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 1437
92ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVE SUTHERLAND.
Read 1st time February 10, 2004, and copies ordered printed.
STEPHEN S. DAVIS, Chief Clerk
To amend chapter 226, RSMo, by adding thereto two new sections relating to motor carrier safety.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Chapter 226, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto two new sections, to be known as sections 226.195 and 226.197, to read as follows:
226.195. 1. Motor carriers may voluntarily request a compliance audit to be conducted by the highways and transportation commission of the department of transportation to determine whether the motor carrier is currently in compliance with all relevant statutes, rules, and regulations. If deficiencies are discovered by the commission during the voluntary compliance audit, the carrier shall not be subject to fines or penalties. The following restrictions apply to such voluntary compliance audits:
(1) Audits are to be conducted with existing audit staff;
(2) Motor carriers may request only one compliance audit per five-year period;
(3) No motor carrier may have a second voluntary compliance audit unless a regular enforcement audit has been performed; and
(4) A request for such a compliance audit shall not be a rationale for the highways and transportation commission to perform an enforcement audit.
2. The highways and transportation commission shall:
(1) Keep a list of all motor carriers requesting a voluntary compliance audit and if more requests are made than audit slots available, the voluntary compliance audits shall be conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis;
(2) Start a new list of voluntary compliance audit requests each year starting on the first of September and set up a mechanism which manages the voluntary compliance audit requests in the most fiscally efficient and materially fair manner;
(3) Ensure that the commission does not exhibit a pattern of enforcement audit bias against any motor carrier who has requested a voluntary compliance audit, but has failed to receive one; and
(4) Implement rules and regulations as necessary to implement the provisions of this section. No rule or portion of a rule promulgated pursuant to the authority of this section shall become effective unless it has been promulgated pursuant to chapter 536, RSMo.
(5) One-third of the total number of audits performed shall be based on the total number of audits performed in the prior fiscal year.
3. The commission shall perform at a minimum one-third of all audits conducted by the commission as voluntary compliance audits. The highways and transportation commission may, in its discretion, increase the number of voluntary compliance audits to fifty percent of the total audits performed in the prior fiscal year.
4. All records related to the request for a voluntary compliance audit shall be considered open under chapter 610, RSMo.
5. Any pattern of abuse related to voluntary compliance audits conducted or actions resulting from such audits by the highways and transportation commission is admissible in the administrative hearing commission or courts as evidence of abuse of administrative discretion. Upon such a finding the court may award attorney's fees.
6. If the highways and transportation commission discovers a violation that presents a safety issue for the traveling public while conducting a voluntary compliance audit under this section, the commission may shut down the operation of the motor carrier, but the commission shall not impose a fine for the violation.
226.197. 1. The motor carrier shall have sixty days from the release of audit results by the highways and transportation commission to appeal the decision of the commission regarding the audit or any allegations of misconduct by the commission under section 390.067 to the administrative hearing commission. For purposes of this section, "audit" includes enforcement audits and voluntary compliance audits.
2. The provisions of chapter 536, RSMo, shall apply to any complaints or actions referred to the administrative hearing commission.
3. In resolving any deficiency in an audit or a complaint by a motor carrier, the highways and transportation commission shall not offer a settlement agreement to a motor carrier unless the commission has advised the motor carrier in writing of the right to file a complaint concerning the findings of the audit with the administrative hearing commission as proved by chapter 621, RSMo. Any settlement agreement offered by the highways and transportation commission shall be made within thirty days after the results of the audit are issued.
4. Except on issues discovered in the process of a mechanical inspection regarding safety of the actual operating equipment, the burden of proof in all other circumstances shall be on the commission.