converged on Sacramento, CA, earlier this week, using their big
rigs to protest a bill that would increase weight-based IRP fees
in the state by 42 percent.
Sotero, a staff member at the General Assembly, indicated the truckers’
voices were heard – at least in one sense.
did [show up], and it was deafening, believe me,” Sotero said.
rally was announced Aug. 18, a day before it was to take place.
And, according to David Brunelle, public affairs officer for the
California Highway Patrol’s capitol bureau, the protest started
right on schedule, about 11 a.m. PDT Aug. 19. Brunelle was in a
meeting when he heard the big rigs.
trucks started circling around the capitol and sounding their horns,”
he said. “It was part of a permitted event, but I think it went
beyond the permit.”
a press conference on the capitol steps by the California Trucking
Association, the trucks took to the streets, “clogging up the streets
around the capitol and sounding their horns.”
he did not know how many trucks took part, Brunelle said it was
a significant number.
it was enough so that all of M Street and all of L Street were filled
up with these big rigs,” he said. “That’s quite a few trucks. L
and M around the capitol are about a half mile long.
looked like it was fairly organized,” he said. “They didn’t have
any accidents, but they did back up traffic.”
it was all about
bill the truckers were protesting, AB1767, would raise the weight-based
IRP fee in California.
would increase the total fee from $1,700 to $2,420, an increase
of 42 percent. Truckers who run all their miles in California would
pay the entire fee; those who run part of their miles there would
pay based on what percentage of their total miles they run in California.
original version of the bill called for the fee hike to take effect
immediately on passage of the bill. However, now it will, if passed,
take effect Jan. 1, 2004.
passed the Assembly June 3 by a vote of 47-0. It is now on the Senate
floor awaiting final approval. However, it has been there since
June 18, and no final vote is scheduled yet.
Line first reported on the possible increase in June.
Gore, a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance, said then that
because of a new law in the year 2000, California changed from calculating
its fee categories based on unladen weight to using laden weight,
which put it in compliance with how most member states in the International
Registration Plan operate. The plan is an agreement among states
and Canadian provinces that manages reciprocal registration fees.
2000 bill in California was supposed to be “revenue neutral,” meaning
it was supposed to neither add nor subtract from the state’s revenue.
But instead, the change left the state highway fund short – some
media reports say as much as $160 million short.
officials calculated that an increase of 42 percent would be necessary
to make up the difference – the exact amount of fee increase being
the only fee increase down the road
fee isn’t the only increase in costs truckers in the state are facing.
The state’s vehicle license fee is set to automatically increase
to a letter sent by Ken Reed, chief of the state’s IRP office, the
vehicle license fee dropped in 1998 after the General Assembly passed
a law that cut the payments made by vehicle owners subject to California
registration. However, the same bill, Reed wrote, required the fee
to return to its previous, higher level when California’s general
fund did not have enough money to pay for the “offset,” or reduction.
The fee is based on a percentage of a truck’s value. On a $100,000
rig, the fee last year would be $650. After Oct. 1, the fee on that
hypothetical truck will rise to its former level, roughly $2,000.
a fight is under way to stop that increase as well. The Los Angeles
Times reported Aug. 12 that Democrats were floating a plan that
would roll back the automatic increase.
Mark H. Reddig, associate editor
Reddig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.