SPECIAL REPORT: Final transportation bill conferees named - effort to defeat Section 1609 begins

| 6/4/2004

The U.S. Senate and House have named conferees to iron out a final transportation reauthorization bill, thereby giving OOIDA members the full list of legislators to contact when objecting to tolling provisions contained in Section 1609 of the Senate’s version of the bill.

OOIDA is asking members to fax, write, e-mail or call their state's senators and urge them to reject provisions in Section 1609 that allows states to begin collecting tolls on existing interstate highways.

Instead, OOIDA says if it's a given that some tolling provision will be included in the final bill, the toll option is contained in the House's version, within Section 1603. This section allows new tolls only on newly constructed highway lanes. Use of those lanes would be optional to motorists, and the toll would be imposed only as long as necessary to pay for the new lanes' construction.

Senate conferees to contact:

Republicans named to the conference are: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles of Oklahoma, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain of Arizona, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Sens. John Warner of Virginia, George Voinovich of Ohio, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Trent Lott of Mississippi.

The independent senators and Democrats on the conference are: Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member James M. Jeffords, I-VT, Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee ranking member and Minority Whip Harry Reid, D-NV, Senate Finance Committee ranking member Max Baucus, D-MT, Senate Budget Committee ranking member Kent Conrad, D-ND, Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Ernest F. Hollings, D-SC, Senate Banking Committee ranking member Paul Sarbanes, D-MD, and Sens. Bob Graham, D-FL, Joseph Lieberman, D-CT, and Barbara Boxer, D-CA.

House conferees to contact:

House Speaker J, Dennis Hastert, R-IL, named the following members to the House negotiating team for the transportation conference:

Republicans representatives include Don Young of Alaska; Vernon Ehlers of Michigan; Tom Petri of Wisconsin; Spencer Bauchus of Alabama; Sherwood Boehlert of New York; Steve LaTourette of Ohio; Howard Coble of North Carolina; Gary Miller of California; John Duncan of Tennessee; Denny Rehberg of Montana; John Mica of Florida; Bob Beauprez of Colorado; and Pete Hoekstra of Michigan.

Other Republicans include Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas; Jim Nussle of Iowa; Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut; Cass Ballenger of North Carolina; Judy Biggert of Illinois; Joe Barton of Texas; Chip Pickering of Mississippi; Tom Davis of Virginia; Ed Shrock of Virginia; Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin; Lamar Smith of Texas; Richard Pombo of California; Jim Gibbons of Nevada; David Dreier of California; Pete Sessions of Texas; Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland; Randy Neugebauer of Texas; Bill Thomas of California and Jim McCrery of Louisiana.

Democrats include Henry Waxman of California; John Dingell of Michigan; John Conyers of Michigan; Charles Rangel of New York; John Spratt of South Carolina; George Miller of California; Ron Kind of Wisconsin; and Martin Frost of Texas.

"I'm confident we have a team that is willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work on a bill that will create jobs and keep our economy rolling," Hastert said.

Sample letter and contact information

The following is a sample letter members can use to contact their representatives:

"It is extremely important that Senator or Representative  ___________ contact the lawmakers who are participating in the highway bill conference and tell them to reject Section 1609 of the Senate bill. That section has programs that would allow for tolling of existing interstate highways and would devastate small-business truckers. If there must be a tolling program in the final version of the highway bill, Section 1603 of the House bill is the only one that is voluntary and fair."

Write your U.S. elected officials at their Washington and/or local offices as soon as possible. Phone calls are also important, but letters are very effective, and we should have time over the next few weeks to make calls.

With lawmakers having to screen all their mail these days, letters take a little longer to get to their offices. If possible, fax your letter before mailing it to ensure it gets the immediate attention it deserves.

If you are not sure who your lawmakers are, simply phone the OOIDA Membership Department, and they'll look up the information for you. The toll-free number is 1-800-444-5791. If you know who they are but don't have contact information, you can visit www.congress.orgwww.house.gov or www.senate.gov. Or you can also call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. If you're home, try looking in the blue government pages in the phone book, or call local information.