The Senate approved the Hutchinson-Nelson Amendment to the
highway bill on May 10, paving the way for the prevention of tolls on existing
The amendment modifies a pilot pilot program created in 1998 that allows up to three states to toll
existing interstate highways. The program has yet to be used by any state
except Virginia. Because Virginia had already begun the program, the amendment
would not apply to that state.
Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator
Independent Drivers Association, said the addition of the amendment is a small
victory, but there are still hurdles to clear for both it and mandatory fuel
surcharge legislation, which has yet to be introduced in the Senate’s version
of the highway bill.
“The house (version) still has wide open provisions in it
for tolling on interstate highways,” Spencer said. “So obviously truckers still
want to be conveying their thoughts on the need for fuel surcharge legislation
and also their thoughts on the toll road provisions to lawmakers both in the
Senate and the House.”
Rod Nofziger, government relations representative for OOIDA,
said that the fuel surcharge could still make it into the final version of the
“We’re still exploring opportunities to get it done in the
Senate,” he said.
OOIDA is urging its
members to fax and call – letters may not make it soon enough – their U.S.
senators and urge them to include the mandatory fuel surcharge language from
the House version of the highway bill in the Senate’s version.
The language in the House bill – HR3 at Section 4139 – requires all
motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders running truckload freight to
implement fuel surcharges and pass on 100 percent of those charges to the
person who actually pays for the fuel.
If truckers are uncertain who their senators are, they can contact
OOIDA’s Membership Department, and they will look up the information. The
toll-free OOIDA number is 1-800-444-5791.
Truckers can also call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121,
give the operator their ZIP code and be directly connected to their senator’s
– By Terry Scruton, senior writer