Truckers’ efforts generate four bills in Maine to ease truckers’ costs

| Tuesday, March 11, 2008

State lawmakers in the Maine Legislature are considering four bills that would provide fuel-tax rebates and other forms of relief to truckers in the forestry industry.

Members of a coalition seeking relief say a combination of high fuel prices and a decreased demand for wood products are putting companies out of business in Maine.

Trucking company owner Larry Sidelinger, an OOIDA member from Nobleboro, ME, said that the group of bills will help forestry truckers stay on their feet if the legislature and governor approve them. Sidelinger and other Maine truckers have been talking to and working with their state legislators since late 2007 in an effort to provide some kind of relief from high diesel prices.

Gov. John Baldacci declared a civil state of emergency in November 2007, urging lawmakers to draft bills to provide relief.

Sidelinger said he and others in the coalition just kept at it until they got results.

“We were told over and over that we wouldn’t get the tax-relief bill before the Taxation Committee or the Transportation Committee, and now it’s ready to go to the floor of the House and the Senate,” Sidelinger told Land Line earlier this week.

Sen. Elizabeth Schneider, D-Penobscot County, introduced LD2228 to provide a rebate of state diesel taxes to truckers hauling forestry products from Jan. 1, 2008, through April 30, 2008.

In order to qualify for a rebate, truckers must file a detailed application to the State Tax Assessor’s office within 12 months of the fuel purchase.

Two committees – the House Committee on Taxation and the Senate Committee on Taxation – voted Feb. 26 to send versions of LD2228 to their respective chambers for vote.

The other three bills being considered on behalf of truckers in Maine are:
LD2225, to provide temporary relief from state sales taxes on business products including trucks and trailers;
LD2222, to provide temporary relief from property taxes; and
LD2209, to temporarily suspend axle-weight fines on certain routes.

The full House and Senate have not yet scheduled votes for the four trucking-related bills.

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