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Election 2012: Know your West Virginia governor
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

In the lead-up to Election Day it is a good idea to take a look back at some significant actions taken by incumbents. For West Virginia, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is again vying for the votes of truckers and others.

Tomblin initially assumed the office in fall 2010 when then-Gov. Joe Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate. Tomblin was elected to a special, one-year term in October 2011 to fill the unexpired term ending this coming January. Previously, he was president of the West Virginia Senate.

With a full four-year term as the state’s chief executive in his sights, Tomblin is back on the ballot. He is running against Republican Bill Maloney, a businessman.

As Election Day approaches, below are some actions relevant to trucking that the Democratic governor took since he took office nearly two years ago.

Shortly after taking office Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have increased the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles fees by $43 million a year. The bill sought to route money into the state Road Fund by raising fees that included vehicle registration and titles.

Tomblin said at the time that it was a bad time to be raising fees.

“Our people are hurting and our unemployment rates are still too high,” Tomblin said in his veto statement.

Instead, Tomblin said that he would prefer to work with lawmakers to find a systematic way to pay for roads in the state.

During the 2012 regular session, Tomblin signed into law a bill that covers idling exemptions for large trucks.

A two-year-old law in the state prohibits diesel-powered vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds from idling for more than 15 minutes per hour.

Affected trucks are exempt from the time limit rule when temperatures are lower than 40 degrees or higher than 75 degrees. The exception applies only at locations where trucks are legally permitted to park, including truck terminals, truck stops and rest areas – as long as idle-reduction technology is unavailable.

While loading or unloading, idling is allowed for up to 15 minutes in a 60-minute period, when necessary.

When the rule took effect in summer 2010, the temperature exemption included a sunset date of May 1, 2012.

Tomblin signed a bill into law to remove the sunset date on the exemption.

Before taking over as governor, Tomblin sponsored tolling and fuel tax legislation while serving as Senate president.

Signed into law in 2010 was an effort to give the West Virginia Parkways Authority the option to expand the state’s toll roads. The permission granted in the bill enabled the agency to pursue selling bonds to build new highways and to collect tolls on those roads to pay off the bonds.

Tomblin also sponsored a bill to limit the annual changes to the fuel tax that are based on wholesale prices. Signed into law in late 2009, the rule change made permanent a 5-cent tax added in 1993, which was set to expire in 2013.

Also attached to the bill was a provision to earmark $27.3 million for the state’s secondary roads.

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