Cover Story - Special Section
Your vote, your voice

Truckers throughout the nation spoke up and made a difference already this year by contacting lawmakers on key issues, but Election Day in November offers professional drivers the opportunity to do even more.

It’s imperative that truckers seize this opportunity to help shape the political landscape for years to come.

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.

Federal

An OOIDA board member from Idaho set up a meeting with his member of Congress. They discussed the TRUCC Act – a bill that would require pass-through of fuel surcharges and disclosure of all fuel surcharge information.

In Washington state, OOIDA members from Chehalis, WA, asked for a meeting with their U.S. representative – and they got it. U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, R-WA, met with the OOIDA members and other truckers who described how the high fuel costs are affecting truckers’ livelihoods.

In response to what those truckers told him, Baird suggested that truckers across the country should contact their own U.S. representatives in their home states to give them a “heads up” on supporting some sort of emergency funding measure to help save small-business truckers.

State

Truckers also helped make an impact on numerous state issues. One example was in Maine where forestry haulers lobbied state lawmakers and the governor about high fuel prices. Their talks led to a series of concessions by the Legislature for affected truckers, which included waivers for carrying more weight, temporary relief from property taxes, and a sales tax exemption for repair parts and maintenance supplies.

A North Carolina OOIDA member took issue with what some referred to as an antiquated law limiting trailer lengths to 48 feet. She started at the grassroots level and spoke with her county commissioners.

That discussion led to the state’s assistant attorney general issuing an advisory letter to enforcement agencies telling them that 53-foot trailers were actually allowed on certain highways. Ultimately the state legislature took up the issue and now there is a new law on the books that clearly states that 53-foot trailers are allowed on the state’s primary roads.

New York truck drivers have been very busy this year. One professional driver testified in front of the state’s Assembly about how diesel prices are hurting truckers’ businesses. He also talked about how fuel costs are affecting consumer prices. Other New York-based truckers set up a roundtable discussion with several state lawmakers and business owners at an area truck stop.

Local

Truckers in Hesperia, CA, and Rio Rancho, NM, were successful in making their voices heard in opposition to proposed bans on truck parking on their properties.

It is vital that truckers continue to be active in the voting process and build on the progress 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. LL

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