By Sandi Soendker
Normally, I’m a fly on the wall at the OOIDA Board of Directors meetings. As a fly, I’ve covered these gatherings for Land Line Magazine for 20 years. This year was different. In the late fall, I was elected to serve on the Board myself as alternate employee board member. So, I’ve moved off that wall and I can tell you, it’s a different world when you are fully involved.
Instead of reporting on the board’s actions from a note taker’s point of view, here are key highlights insider-style.
TRUCC Act. A year ago, OOIDA’s Board of Directors met for four days and cut loose a vigorous course of action on high-priority actions. One of those goals was to accomplish “fairness in trucking transactions” legislation to create a level playing field for small-business truckers by mandating 100 percent fuel surcharge pass-through and a full disclosure trail of the surcharge fee.
Convening in Grain Valley in April 2008, OOIDA Board members, officers and DC staff forged through new and old business that included details of a proposed bill that, if approved, would provide serious relief for small-business truckers in an industry up to its butt in alligators. As reported elsewhere in this magazine, SB2910, the Trust in Reliable Understanding of Consumer Costs Act has been introduced in the U.S. Congress.
DC staff: heavy schedules. OOIDA’s government affairs staff were on hand with more updates on their work. With hearings in progress as the government gears up for the next highway funding authorization bill, the schedule for the staff has been heavy. Additionally, with the current administration leaning over backward to sell our infrastructure to foreign investors, and its zeal to throw our southern border wide open, Rod Nofziger, Mike Joyce, Laura O’Neill and Melissa Theriault have been incredibly active. In fact, Melissa stayed in DC to hold down the fort. As you can see from the Government Affairs goals list on Page 51, their To-Do List is aggressive.
The working subgroups of the Government Affairs committees presented fresh, new strategies on safety issues, highway funding and economy. The economy and its impact on professional truckers dominated each of the subgroups. The board adopted a position that commits the organization to programs that address outreach, education and empowerment to all small-business truckers and professional drivers. The programs will be designed to elevate professionalism across the diverse trucking industry by advocating for higher driver training requirements and conveying – and delivering – OOIDA’s resources to the various trucking communities.
“The industry is saturated with truckers who need a hand up, not a hand out,” said Board Member Charles Parfrey.
New business, key vote. After a fervent debate on whether the OOIDA Board of Directors would support bills such as Missouri’s proposed legislation to require all diesel fuel sold at the retail level in the state to be a biodiesel blend – the board voted, in fact, to oppose such mandates.
Board members said there may be benefits to using biodiesel, but at this point, it’s way too soon to draw solid conclusions. The board was concerned with performance issues, specifically the dependability of cold-temperature operability standards. Another sticking point was the significant tax subsidies doled out from the U.S. Treasury. Additionally, the board was concerned with biodiesel’s impact on world energy and food markets.
“Because of these concerns, any mandate would be extremely premature,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.
A bill halfway through the Missouri General Assembly would mandate 10 percent biodiesel blend in the state. Missouri already mandates that gasoline sold in the state contain 10 percent ethanol.
If it becomes law, Missouri would become the sixth state to enact some sort of biodiesel requirement. Louisiana, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington have approved 2 percent standards while New Mexico has authorized a 5 percent requirement. Only Minnesota has implemented the standards.
Other business. Board Secretary Robert Esler, Taylor, MI, and General Vice President Woody Chambers, Eddyville, KY, were re-elected for five more years.
Rod Nofziger, OOIDA Director of Government Affairs, updated the Board on the current balance of the Association’s Political Action Committee Fund. The PAC raised more than $142,000 in 2007; 2,555 OOIDA members contributed.
Rick Craig, regulatory affairs director, along with Laura O’Neill of OOIDA’s DC staff, reported on the Association’s current strategies in fighting the efforts of Canadian provincial governments to mandate speed limiters.
Other reports. Paul Cullen Sr., OOIDA litigation counsel, updated the Board on current legal actions in which OOIDA is involved. Trial dates have been set for several key cases. Class members need to be aware of a deadline in the 10-year-old Mayflower case. Staff Editor Coral Beach reports on Page 38.
Board Member Bill Rode gave the report from the Scholarship Committee. Each year, OOIDA awards one $2,000/year and four $1,000/year scholarships to children, grandchildren and legal dependants of OOIDA members. In the first 10 years of this program – 2008/2009 school year being year number eleven – we’ve awarded $125,000 to 46 young people from 24 different states. Bill announced that the committee has selected the recipients and that information will be announced by Land Line Magazine in August.
Board Member Bill Boyd gave the Media Committee report. This report updates the board on the activities of the magazine, radio show, Web site operations and public affairs staff. This was the most “earthshaking” committee meeting of the whole week. During the meeting, the table began a slight motion and water in the bottles began sloshing. It was an aftershock of the quake that hit the New Madras Fault earlier in the day, with the epicenter in southern Illinois.
Board election coming up. The 2008 membership election will seat five new alternates on the OOIDA Board of Directors. Nominations are now closed. It is very important that you as an OOIDA member take the opportunity to participate in this election by voting for those nominees you feel are qualified to sit on the OOIDA Board. The election process is a very important part of your membership as you are responsible for electing those individuals that lead and guide your Association. Ballots are due to be sent out in the mail the first of November.
Also, to help you with the election process, in November we will interview the nine top-scoring nominees and broadcast mini-interviews on our XM Satellite Radio show, “Land Line Now.”
Watch for your ballot and please don’t forget to vote. The elected alternates will be seated at the spring 2009 board meeting. LL