OOIDA calls Indiana transportation funding bill 'among the worst'

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 4/5/2017

In a no-bones letter to the Indiana State Legislature, OOIDA Director of State Legislative Affairs Mike Matousek has called out a proposed funding bill “among the worst transportation funding proposals we have seen in recenat years.”

HB 1002 authorizes the governor to establish tolls “with absolutely no legislative oversight or approval,” Matousek wrote. If Indiana is granted an empty slot in the federal Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program, the state could impose tolls on existing roads. The Senate version goes further by eliminating the public comment process.

The bill would also establish a “weigh-in-motion” pilot program that authorizes law enforcement to measure weight without stopping at reduced speeds. According to Matousek, the WIM program is “nothing more than enforcement for profit, it eliminates due process protections, and it is a strong deterrent for law-abiding motor carriers to operate in Indiana.”

OOIDA says that the program would result in erroneous citations with no timely recourse.

Fuel decal fees will be increased by 50 percent, according to the bill. Matousek notes that this translates to approximately $678 for a truck registered more than 78,000 pounds, a major burden to small-business truckers.

Tires are also under attack in the proposed bill. Fees will increase on the sale of each new tire by $5. Currently, the tire fee is 25 cents, making the proposed fee a 2,000 percent increase. That money will go to the Motor Vehicle Highway Account. With such a significant increase, truckers will be incentivized to purchase tires somewhere else, affecting Indiana businesses.

Furthermore, the Senate version will call for a $100 “Transportation Improvement Fee” on trucks more than 26,000 pounds.

“Because it’s based on weight, the legislature is essentially proposing to tax a tax,” Matousek wrote in the letter.

Lastly, HB 1002 will increase fuel taxes, including diesel. Although OOIDA generally does not oppose fuel tax increases, Matousek explains the financial burden on truckers is excessive when combined with all the other fee increases within the bill.

“We would encourage the legislature to take a step back and really reconsider what it is about to do,” Matousek said. “The registration fee by itself is a significant tax increase on small-business truckers. Cumulatively, the overall package is a massive tax increase. In fact, for Indiana-based truckers that run a majority of their miles in Indiana, their annual tax burden could easily increase by more than $2,000. We want to be clear that HB 1002 will harm trucking businesses based in Indiana.”

The Senate voted 34-13 on Tuesday, April 4, to approve a bill that is touted to help the state address the $1.2 billion annually needed for roads over the next 20 years. Local roads need about $775 million per year. The bill previously passed Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee on an 11-2 vote.

Senate passage clears the way for the 102-page bill to head back to the House for consideration of changes. It is expected that House lawmakers will opt to send HB1002 to a conference committee made up of select members from each chamber to iron out their differences in the bill.

Consensus on the bill’s provisions would clear the way for the funding proposal to move to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk for his expected signature.

To the view the bill, click here.

State Legislative Editor Keith Goble contributed to this report.

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