Grower likes new potato digger

A truck is filled with potatoes for the trip to a storage shed near Quincy, Wash. A bill relaxing weight rules on farm trucks during harvest is progressing through the Washington Legislature.

OLYMPIA — Truck drivers hauling crops will have some leeway before getting a ticket for exceeding weight limits, according to a bill passed Monday by the state House.

Senate Bill 5883 will let drivers carrying crops exceed weight limits by up to 5% twice in a calendar year. Farm lobbyists said that rain can make crops heavier than expected.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, said at a hearing this session the legislation will help growers during harvest season.

"This is about farmers getting their product out of the field," he said. "It's nigh impossible for that truck to be weighed so that the farm knows exactly what the weight is."

The version of the bill passed by the Senate gave drivers four warnings instead of two. The Senate will have to OK the revisions. King accepts the House changes to his bill, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The bill was opposed by the Washington State Association of County Engineers, which warned of increased road wear. The Washington State Patrol objected to giving drivers up to four warnings before writing a ticket.

The Washington State Potato Commission led the lobbying for the bill at legislative hearings. The Washington Association of Wheat Growers and Washington State Dairy Federation also testified in support.

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