Governor Tom Wolf recently signed into law Senate Bill 725, while the Pennsylvania House considered three other bills that would affect farmers.
SB 725 clarifies the types of driver’s licenses farmers can use when operating farm vehicles. The bill allows farmers with Class A, B or C licenses to operate trucks, or truck combinations, with a gross vehicle weight more than 26,000 pounds. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau supported SB 725, which was introduced by Sen. Camera Bartolotta and unanimously passed by both the Senate and House. SB 725 goes into effect immediately.
Meanwhile, the House passed House Bills 122 and 1307 and recommitted HB 2071 to the House Appropriations committee. Both HB 122 and HB 1307 amend Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.
HB 122 allows for “drive your tractor to school” day. The bill permits children 14 or older to drive farm equipment to school for an annual agriculture-related educational event. The equipment must be less than 11 feet in width, and the distance between the residence and school must be is less than 25 miles. HB 122 passed 115-84, along a mostly party-line vote with most Republicans supporting.
HB 1307 allows multipurpose agricultural vehicles to travel up to 10 miles on the road. The existing statute only allows for MAVs to travel up to five miles. HB 1307 passed the House 120-79, mostly on a party-line vote with Republicans in support.
HB 122 and HB 1307 both head to the Senate for further consideration.
The House also considered HB 2071, unanimously recommitting the bill to the Appropriations Committee. The bill, introduced by Rep. Martin Causer, would establish a broadband authority to provide broadband internet access to unserved and underserved residents. The bill also requires the creation of a broadband plan for the state. Pennsylvania will receive a minimum of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recently signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Rural broadband is a top public policy item for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. PFB recently provided testimony in support of HB 2071, outlining straightforward goals:
- Identifying a plan for deployment that prioritizes spending in areas of greatest need and provides a technology-neutral solution that results in broadband speeds that, at least, meet the current Federal Communications Commission definition of broadband
- Identifying an authority best equipped to deploy grants to providers that will fill in those gaps of service
- Investing substantial financial resources to the issue
The House is expected to further consider HB 2071 in December.