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5/27/2005
SPECIAL REPORT: Highway Bill conferees named, surcharge still alive

Congress has named the conferees that will work on the final version of the Highway Bill when Congress returns from recess on June 6.

Rod Nofziger, government relations representative for OOIDA, said that this will most likely be the final home stretch for the bill, but it is still not too late for fuel surcharge legislation to make it into the final version. And this holiday weekend may provide truckers opportunities to discuss the surcharge with their representatives and senators.

The language - section 4139 of HR3 - says all motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders running truckload freight MUST implement fuel surcharges and they MUST pass 100 percent of those surcharges through to the person who actually pays for the fuel.

The rule was included in the House's version of the bill, but not in the Senate's version.

Nofziger said now is the time for truckers to contact their representatives and urge them to include the legislation in the final version of the bill. He said truckers shouldn't be deterred by the fact that Congress is in recess, as many representatives will return to their home districts for public appearances at local events, such as parades.

"They have the week off, but a lot of members refer to it not as a recess, but as a work week," he said. "It would be a fantastic time, if you have any opportunity to interact with them, to talk about it."

Both the House and Senate have approved their own versions of the new Highway Bill, but now a conference committee must resolve the differences between the two bills before the legislation can go to President Bush for final approval.

Congress passed a 30-day extension of the bill on May 26, which gives the conferees until the end of June to hammer out a final version.

This is the latest of several extensions since the 1998 Highway Bill expired in September 2003. Each extension has continued the funding levels from the 1998 legislation.

- By Terry Scruton, senior writer
terry_scruton@landlinemag.com

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