By Keith Goble
state legislative editor
There aren’t too many times voters get to partake in elections of national significance. The upcoming election season is one of those times.
It’s imperative that truckers seize this opportunity to continue to help shape the political landscape for the next four years, or even longer. In the next few months, every state – except Kansas – will have presidential nominating contests in the form of primary elections or caucuses.
Thanks to the efforts of countless truckers throughout the country, a lot of headway has been made this past year on issues at the federal, state and local levels. In Washington, DC, we’ve seen truckers make their voice heard on issues such as tolling on interstates.
Truckers also helped make an impact on numerous state issues. One example is out of Wisconsin where truckers shared their concerns with House and Senate lawmakers about an effort to modify the state’s Diesel Truck Idling Reduction Grant Program.
The primary benefactors of the proposed revisions would have been large motor carriers. But when Wisconsin truckers contacted their representatives and senators, the lawmakers stopped in their tracks and left the program alone. (For more information, see Page 38.)
At the local level, residents in two Texas communities made their presence known.
In Houston, truckers came out in opposition to a proposed ordinance that would limit truck sizes and weights and impose additional permit fees. The elected official behind the proposal agreed to delay a vote and to consider input from the trucking industry. (See Page 41.)
In Dallas, truckers and others got behind a grassroots effort against a proposed toll road. A petition drive netted enough signatures for a question on the toll road to be added to the November ballot.
It is vital we continue to be active in the voting process and build off the progress we’ve made in the past year. Election time no longer is limited to a particular season. It’s year-round. And so too is the need to communicate with elected officials about issues of importance to your trucking livelihood.
Primaries, caucuses begin earlier than ever
In a move that started a ripple effect across the country, South Carolina Republicans recently rescheduled their 2008 presidential primary from Feb. 2 to Jan. 19. The decision spurred other early voting states to consider whether to push up their balloting to the first of the year or as early as December 2007.
Democrats in the Palmetto State announced they will stick to their vote on Jan. 29. The decision to move up the GOP decision day is likely to push New Hampshire and Iowa to follow suit.
State laws in Iowa and New Hampshire require party officials there to have the first caucus and primary in the nation, respectively. As a result, the New Hampshire primary likely will be moved up from Jan. 22 to at least
Jan. 12. Iowa could reschedule its traditional leadoff caucuses – currently set for Jan. 14 – perhaps to as early as mid-December this year.
There were no plans as of press time, however, to move up the date of Iowa’s Democratic caucus. It is planned for Jan. 14.
Other states also could make a push to move up their nominating contests to attract candidates to their states before
Feb. 5, when voters in more than 20 states are slated to head to the voting booth.
All the wrangling to hold primaries earlier could result in the nominees for president being decided as early as the first week of February. With that in mind, it is important to take the time to make sure your voice is heard and help shape who will be left standing to vie for your vote come November 2008.
When is your primary, caucus?
To find out when your state’s nominating contest for president is scheduled, contact your secretary of state’s office. See Page 60 for your state’s contact information.