By Keith Goble
state legislative editor
While this year’s election season won’t generate as much attention as the presidential election did a couple of years ago, filling out a ballot remains just as important – if not more so – to the livelihood of truckers.
Consequently, OOIDA is once again focused on providing truckers with information on how to register to vote, early voting, absentee ballots and deadlines for registering in all 50 states. It is vital that professional drivers and their families use this information to take advantage of opportunities to have a say in who’s representing them and what efforts they support or reject.
This November, voters across the country will cast ballots on several important races and issues.
At the federal level, all of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election, while 33 – or one-third – of the U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs.
At the state level, 36 of the 50 governors’ seats are on ballots, while 83 percent of state legislators’ positions across America are on ballots.
There are no state legislative seats up for bid in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, but there are important ballot issues in those states on local initiatives as well as local and congressional elections.
Voters in several states also will decide on various transportation-related issues. Among them are efforts in California that would authorize $19.9 billion to relieve traffic congestion throughout the state and authorize further protections to ensure state fuel taxes are spent on transportation.
Much of the nearly $20 billion for congestion relief would be earmarked for commercial corridors and to help move goods from ports in the state. The protection for fuel taxes would limit the number of times lawmakers could dip into that revenue for the state budget and require them to repay the money within a few years.
In Minnesota, voters will choose whether to dedicate all motor vehicle sales taxes to transportation. If approved, highways would get 60 percent of the funding and mass transit would get the rest. Currently, the state transportation department gets about 40 percent of the tax proceeds.
Nevada voters will decide whether to restrict government spending increases, which could force the state to hold statewide elections before bonds are issued to build roads.
While elected officials are hammering the airwaves and stuffing mailboxes with their messages in hopes of swaying voters, those savvy to the practice will instead pay more attention to all of their elected officials’ work in office. Past actions of politicians can help voters determine whether the pressure of getting re-elected might be causing them to appear to change their way of thinking.
That being said, oftentimes politicians will throw caution to the wind and continue to champion enacted initiatives that have made many a voter wince.
A sampling of significant trucking-related issues that have been enacted in state legislatures during the past few years include Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s pet project to create the Trans-Texas Corridor. Approved in 2003, the corridor would include a toll road that would cut across Texas from the Mexican border to Oklahoma.
Two years ago in Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich ignored bipartisan support for eliminating the state’s split speed limit when he vetoed the effort.
Early this year, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels used his influence among his Republican counterparts to squeak through legislation authorizing the lease of the Indiana Toll Road to a foreign group for 75 years.
Voters who are interested in brushing up on these and other trucking-related issues that have been brought before lawmakers in their home state can visit landlinemag.com and click on “Legislative Watch” near the top of the page.
The “Legislative Watch” site also provides an archive that allows you to review noteworthy bills from the past few years.
OOIDA encourages truckers who have not yet registered to vote or requested an absentee ballot to visit TruckVote.com for information on voting in your home state.
Those truckers who do not have Web access – or those who have questions or need assistance – can call the OOIDA Membership Department at 1-800-444-5791, Ext. 4906.