Federal Update
OOIDA opposes freight tax that would benefit rail

By David Tanner, associate editor

OOIDA is hoping a bill in Congress that would tax truck shipments goes nowhere fast.

The proposed Freight Infrastructure Reinvestment Act would add a 1 percent tax to ground shipments of more than 50 miles, with the money slated for infrastructure projects. In effect, it would target shippers who use trucks to bear the cost for rail, port and intermodal improvements.

The bill would include some highway, bridge and tunnel improvements, but only those in proximity to railways, rail crossings, ports and intermodal locations.

OOIDA strongly opposes the measure.

“The railroads have the audacity to reach out to shippers that use trucks to pay a tax that will basically be dedicated to rebuilding rail infrastructure to the tune of astronomical amounts of money,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said.

“These are all privately owned, very much for-profit companies,” he said. “It’s all about facilitating rail needs, and rail wishes, and fattening their bottom line.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., introduced the bill, HR3825, along with House cosponsors Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J.; and Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif.

HR3825 would establish the National Freight Mobility Improvement Program within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“The fee would be 1 percent of the total cost of transport and all the fees collected would go directly to the National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Fund, a dedicated source of funding for freight mobility improvement projects,” Smith stated in a press release.

The U.S. DOT secretary would have the jurisdiction to solicit projects and make the grants, according to bill language.

The bill currently resides in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. At press time, the committee had not decided whether the bill would be marked up or come up for debate.

Smith attempted to pass a similar bill in 2011, but his proposal was not included in the multi-year highway bill, MAP-21. The House T&I Committee is working on the next multiyear highway bill due in Congress later this year.

HR3825 will be among the proposals that OOIDA will be trying to keep out of the final product. LL