By a vote of 97 to 1 the State House of Representatives today passed a bill that clarifies that farmers and their help do not need to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) when hauling agricultural products, equipment and supplies from their farms to storage.

Substitute Senate Bill 6423 now goes to the governor.

“I thank Chris Voigt, Matt Harris, and other members of the Washington Potato Commission for bringing this issue to my attention, and the Washington Farm Bureau for its unwavering support,” said Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, who co-sponsored the legislation.

As the lead Republican on the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, Holmquist Newby has made job creation and retention her top priority.

“Having grown up on a farm here in the 13th District, I believe that supporting agriculture should be a major component of the state’s job creation efforts,” she said. “This bill will save our farm employers from having to pay thousands of dollars for a CDL that would only be used for a few weeks each year at harvest.”

Under current state law, drivers of commercial motor vehicles must first obtain a commercial driver's license. Farmers operating farm vehicles are exempt from the CDL requirement, when the farm vehicles are used to transport agricultural products, farm machinery, or farm supplies to or from a farm; however, the definition of a farm vehicle in Motor Vehicles Code is limited to those vehicles going from one farm to another, sometimes causing confusion for law enforcement.

SSB 6423 revises the definition of a “farm vehicle” in the Motor Vehicle Code to bring it into conformity with the use of the term within the specific CDL exemption.

“I am happy we passed this common-sense bill bringing clarity to state law, predictability for farm employers and a clear guideline to the Washington State Patrol,” Holmquist Newbry said.