As Minnesota lawmakers continue to haggle over the state’s budget, its safety rest areas remain closed for truck drivers and motorists passing through there.
On Friday, July 8, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, and top Republican lawmakers still hadn’t reached a budget agreement.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, if a budget agreement isn’t reached by Sunday, July 10, it will be the longest of five state shutdowns that have occurred since 2002. Most have been for a few hours or a few days.
At a recent hearing about funding for critical functions of the state during the shutdown, Minnesota Trucking Association President John Hausladen urged that funding be returned to the state-run rest areas. He argued that these are core functions of the state government since truck parking is already scarce in the state even with the rest areas.
“The shutdown makes an already recognized problem for the industry incredibly more serious,” according to Hausladen’s testimony before former Minnesota state Supreme Court Chief Kathleen Blatz, who has been appointed the special master of court proceedings.
“Truck drivers who run out of hours, but can’t be accommodated at a private stop, will have to make one of two illegal choices. They can drive in excess of their allowable hours to find an acceptable parking spot – or they can park on shoulders and ramps, creating a hazard for other motorists,” Hausladen said.
Most state-operated websites are down, including those vital to truckers, such as the Department of Public Safety and Driver Services. The Department of Transportation, which halted all ongoing construction projects as of midnight, still has a functioning website, but presents a notice that most state government services will be closed to the public. The governor’s website hasn’t been updated since June 30.
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