By Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 12 months, you are well aware that 2016 is a big election year. By now, you have probably had enough of watching and listening to campaign commercials on the television and radio. Even the most politically-inclined need a break at some point.

However, as I have mentioned before, elections are important and they have consequences - good and bad. What happens in the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., will absolutely have an impact on your life. The same can be said for the actions of state lawmakers in state capitals across the country, which is the focus of this article.

State lawmakers are relatively accessible, especially during an election year. They are constantly on the campaign trail, knocking on doors, making phone calls, and out in the community talking to voters. If you see a prospective state lawmaker, introduce yourself, ask them some questions, and vote accordingly. Of course, it is not always so easy when your personal views lead you to candidate A and your professional views lead you to candidate B.

There are countless issues that impact you as a small-business trucking professional, even those that are debated thousands of miles away from your hometown. In short, your vote affects your fellow drivers in the trucking industry. For example:

In Rhode Island, the legislature and Gov. Gina Raimondo enacted a law (HB7409 and SB2246) to allow the state to develop the nation's first truck-only tolls at several locations throughout the state. For Rhode Island residents, how did your state lawmakers vote on this issue?

In Connecticut, the legislature and state transportation officials were debating the possibility of closing rest areas on I-84 in Southington and Willington. For Connecticut residents, do your state lawmakers think it is wise to close rest areas considering the existing shortage of commercial truck parking?

And in other states, we are dealing with issues related to transportation funding, truck parking, nonconsensual towing, lane restrictions, cargo theft, speed limits, truck weights, etc. Do your state lawmakers, or those running for state office, have an opinion about these issues?

To sum up, voting is important, and who you vote for is entirely your choice.

Visit to learn more about the many issues that impact you. LL