Jan. 28, 2002, Grain
Valley, MO -- The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
(OOIDA) has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality
of the collection of fuel taxes on toll roads in New York state.
The petition to the Supreme Court represents continued efforts
by OOIDA in a lawsuit originally filed against New York in February,
Commenting on their recent
filing with the Supreme Court, OOIDA President Jim Johnston stated,
"When tolls fully pay for the use of the toll road, OOIDA
believes that the collection of a fuel tax for the use of the
same road is a form of double taxation, is an 'undue burden' on
interstate commerce, and is forbidden by the Commerce Clause of
the U.S. Constitution." Johnston added, "OOIDA's success
in this litigation could mean the refund to owner-operators and
motor carriers of several years of fuel taxes paid on miles driven
on toll roads and it would go far in promoting fairness and equity
in fuel tax assessments. As more states eye toll roads as a viable
option, trucks are an easy and convenient target."
OOIDA has similar court
challenges pending in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
All of the states that
OOIDA has sued have defended their taxes by arguing that the fuel
taxes are not collected for the use of the roads but just for
the consumption of the fuel. Johnston said, "This argument
is easily refuted by pointing out that if trucks did not use the
roads they would not consume fuel. Fuel taxes clearly are road
use taxes and even the states have supported this fact over the
years in stating that fuel taxes are the most accurate method
available of reflecting the actual road use. The payment of a
state's fuel tax based on miles driven, regardless of whether
or not fuel was purchased in that state, only lends further evidence
to our contention that fuel taxes are indeed road user taxes.
Unfortunately, the courts of each of these states accepted the
states' arguments made to protect their treasuries."
The New York case is the
most advanced and OOIDA has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court
to review the state court's decision. OOIDA is confident that
if the court reviews the New York decision, it will be reversed.
However, because the Supreme Court receives a large number of
petitions for consideration, few are granted. Therefore, to bring
greater attention to this important issue and to increase the
likelihood that the court chooses to hear the case, OOIDA is seeking
the support of other associations and trucking interests. OOIDA
members are encouraged to discuss this issue with their motor
carriers and ask them to encourage their trucking associations
to file a "friend of the court" brief in support of
OOIDA's petition. Briefs in support must be filed by Feb. 19,
2002, to receive consideration.
Founded in 1973, the Owner-Operator
Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), is comprised of more
than 73,000 owner-operators, professional drivers, and small business
truckers from all 50 states and Canada. OOIDA represents the interest
of this nation's more than 350,000 small business trucking professionals
in the legislative and regulatory processes at both federal and