OOIDA 'vehemently opposes' toll legislation in letter to Virginia governor

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 1/25/2019

Virginia is receiving more criticism over recent legislation proposing tolls that primarily affects truckers. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam expressing its opposition to Interstate 81 tolls.

On Friday, Jan. 25, OOIDA joined other stakeholders who have voiced disapproval of toll legislation that was introduced on Jan. 15. In a letter to Gov. Northam, OOIDA said it “vehemently opposes the Commonwealth of Virginia’s proposal to impose what effectively amounts to a truck-only toll on I-81.”

OOIDA explained that the idea that truckers do not pay their fair share in infrastructure funding is flat-out wrong. OOIDA’s letter points out that truckers pay federal and state taxes for a total of nearly 61 cents per gallon in Virginia, more than 8 cents per gallon than cars powered by gasoline. Furthermore, commercial vehicles pay a federal heavy-vehicle use tax of $550, apportioned registration taxes of $1,321.60 in the state, a 12 percent federal excise tax on the purchase of new trucks, trailers and tires, Unified Carrier Registration fees, and numerous other state and local taxes that apply exclusively to trucks.

The Association also compared Virginia’s proposal to similar tolling schemes in other states.

“The common theme (or goal) is to tax out-of-state trucks, thus minimizing the economic impact to residents of the state and local communities,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer states in the letter. “In other words, the Commonwealth is proposing a significant tax on those who are unable to hold elected officials accountable in the election process, likely because a majority of voters in Virginia would never support a similar tax being imposed on them.”

Of the more than 160,000 OOIDA members, more than 3,000 reside in Virginia. Tens of thousands more travel on highways in the state.

Echoing arguments made by a similar letter sent by the American Trucking Associations to the governor, OOIDA informs Gov. Northam that the proposed toll legislation possibly violates the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution. OOIDA points to legal challenges over similar tolls in other states, suggesting that Virginia can join the list of states being sued over its toll program.

“The plan being championed is punitive against truckers and will not solve the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure needs, including the maintenance of and improvements to I-81,” Spencer said.

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