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New Idaho law sucker punches truckers

Small-business truckdrivers in Idaho, already struggling to combat high fuel prices, now must try to survive the state's weight-distance tax being repealed. A new state law charges flat registration fees for trucks based on the range of miles it travels.

The state repealed the weight-distance tax to settle a suit brought by the American Trucking Associations claiming the two-tier tax was unconstitutional. As part of a settlement, Idaho replaced the ton-mile tax with higher registration fees. The new system charges truckers a flat fee based on a range of miles the trucks run. Under the system, trucks that travel up to 7,500 miles will pay $450, but trucks that travel 7,501 to 50,000 miles pay four times what they paid under the old weight-distance tax. Registration for an 80,000-pound truck that travels 7,501 miles costs about $2,000 compared to $337 under the old law.

Owner-operator and OOIDA board member Bill Rode, of Artesian, ID, says the new system and its impact to truckers is a surprise to most. "Most guys didn't know they were going to get hit like this," Rode toldĀ Land Line. "The consensus among drivers is if we have to pay this price it will shut us down."

State Sen. Darrel Deide and Senate Transportation Committee member Jerry Thorne are working on a bill to reevaluate the new truck registration system to replace the weight-distance tax.

-Keith Goble