OOIDA members across the country called their elected representatives and trucking radio shows, whose hosts helped spread the word, in a successful campaign to defeat a proposal calling for mandatory tolls on existing interstate highways.
In an OOIDA-led effort, truckers jammed congressional phone lines, with nearly 1,000 association members calling one Georgia congressman, and urged the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to adopt an amendment calling for voluntary, not mandatory, toll lanes.
Despite strong opposition from influential members of Congress, the amendment passed April 2 by a vote of 231-193. Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-MN, offered the amendment, a version of Kennedy's FAST Act (originally introduced as HR 1767).
The FAST Act requires that any tolls on existing interstate highways be collected on new lanes only from users who voluntarily choose to drive in these lanes. Toll revenue could be spent only on the lanes where it was collected. The bill also requires the tolls to be eliminated once the lane is paid for. In addition, there would be electronic collection - no cash tolls or tollbooths.
"Professional truckers won one for themselves and the entire nation, but our work is not over just yet," said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president. "Now the effort must be directed to the House/Senate conference committee that will reconcile the differences between House and Senate versions of what will become a final transportation bill for the president's signature."
In that vein, OOIDA is asking members to call or communicate with their senators while they're at home during the upcoming two-week Easter recess.
Click on this link to see how your lawmakers voted: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll111.xml
--by Dick Larsen, senior editor
Dick Larsen can be reached at email@example.com.