Louisiana bill is trucker friendly

| 5/9/2002

Truckers are all too familiar with lawmakers who come looking to them for help in financing projects. But one Louisiana lawmaker who recently introduced a bill to increase road funds says "lay off" commercial drivers.

Rep. John "Juba" Diez (D-Gonzales) says the best way to help fund much-needed work on state roads is to increase license plate fees on private vehicles. Commercial vehicles would be exempt from the fee hike.

"Truckers are already paying their fair share and I recognize it," Diez told Land Line. "The industry is struggling and a lot of small guys are going out of business with maintenance and everything. They already are paying plenty of taxes. I don't want to drive that last nail in the coffin."

Diez told the House Ways and Means Committee this week that HB70, to raise car license fees, and a companion bill to raise the cost of tags for pickups, would generate about $25 million a year. Revenue generated by the higher fees would flow into the state's road trust fund, with the provision that all money would be spent on roads.

His omission of commercial drivers from the pool of tax targets has been met with opposition. But, Diez is unfazed, saying he doesn't want to put people out of business. "Business is bad, insurance rates are high and the trucking industry is depressed. I'll strike down any amendments to the bill that include trucks."
-- Keith Goble, staff writer