Effective representation starts with you

By Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs

OOIDA’s 2017 state legislative agenda is shaping up as another busy year. We’ve already seen state legislatures introduce legislation regarding lane restrictions, truck weights, tolling, tort reform, and speed limits.

As always, our agenda is directed by our executive leadership, board of directors, and individual members. It also varies based on proposals that are introduced by legislators across the country, and sometimes we have very little control over that. In short, we have to be proactive and reactive.

Transportation funding will always be a hot topic. With a change in the White House, we’re expecting a renewed effort by some to increase the use of toll roads to pay for our roads and bridges. Michigan, Missouri and Wyoming are just a few states that currently seek tolling authorization.

In fact, this issue came down to the final hours of the legislative year in Michigan in 2016 where we, along with others, were able to kill a bill that would have granted tremendous authority to the state transportation department to toll new and existing roads and bridges. Missouri has yet to abandon its repeated attempt to toll Interstate 70, and Wyoming is discussing the possibility of tolling I-80.

Towing reform continues to make headlines. After roughly 18 months our efforts in West Virginia are coming to a close. We hope that the end result will be fair for both our members and the towing industry.

Colorado is another state that is in the process of finalizing new towing rules to protect truckers from unscrupulous operators, and we’ve enjoyed working with the Colorado Motor Carriers Association to get this done. CMCA was the architect of a 2014 law that required the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to develop and implement the new rules.

Lane restrictions for commercial trucks aren’t going away. Several states have existing left-lane restrictions for trucks and others. Among the states that are expected to pursue similar restrictions are Alabama, South Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. Thankfully these proposals aren’t very popular in state capitals, but we’ll continue to educate lawmakers on the dangerous conditions and operational inefficiencies that lane restrictions create.

We’re also planning to be heavily involved in California to address the state’s split speed limits for cars and trucks. Generally, interstate speeds for cars are 70 mph while trucks are capped at 55 mph. California has the largest split speed limit in the country, tied only with Montana at 80 mph for cars and 65 mph for trucks. Our goal is to get rid of the speed limit differentials altogether or at least make them more uniform.

Truck weights are another trending issue. States like Texas, North Dakota, Minnesota and Georgia have recently tried to increase truck weights, though the specific proposals vary from state to state. We’ve been working with a coalition to oppose increases to truck weights and don’t expect that to change.

OOIDA’s state legislative agenda is not set in stone. The issues mentioned above are a snapshot of issues that we are aware of and actively engaged with. However, if you know of an issue in your state that you think we should be involved with, please let us know. You can email me directly at Mike_Matousek@ooida.com. We’ll be happy to take a look at any issue you bring to our attention. LL