News
2015 Grassroots Guide
Effective representation requires your help

By Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs

By now, most state legislatures are in full swing and legislation is being introduced and debated on a daily basis in state capitals across the country. You can be certain that some of these proposed laws would have an impact on your trucking business. This year, as in years past and in the years ahead, it is important that you get involved in the legislative process and make your voice heard.

My job is to fight for your rights at the state level. I will do everything possible to raise awareness about OOIDA and make use of our company-wide and membership expertise to educate lawmakers and ensure that they understand how their policy decisions will affect you. However, to most effectively represent your interests, I’ll need your help.

OOIDA has 150,000 members nationwide, which is an average of 3,000 per state. This is not an insignificant number. If you express your opinion, most elected state officials will listen – even if they might not agree with you. At the very least, lawmakers might more carefully consider how they vote on a future trucking-related issue.

So what can you do to help?

Many professional drivers are on the road more than 200 nights per year, sometimes for weeks or months at a time, so getting to know your state legislators or their staff is easier said than done. However, if the opportunity should present itself, be sure to introduce yourself and politely remind them that you are paying attention to their voting record on trucking-related issues. Also, to the extent possible, try not to mix trucking issues with non-trucking issues.

Occasional “Call to Action” emails will also be sent out. See Page 55 for information about signing up. The OOIDA email will generally provide an overview of a relevant issue under consideration in the state you reside. It will include a link that will allow you to take action with a few clicks of your mouse by auto-generating an email message that will be sent to your elected state officials. Note: You can also customize the message.

Taking action by using this method is extremely important and helpful because elected officials are much more responsive to those they represent. And if for any reason the email link does not work, you can find the information on OOIDA’s advocacy website, FightingforTruckers.com, under the “Calls to Action” tab at the top of the page.

Finally, I do my best to track as many state legislative issues as possible, but I simply can’t track everything. Should you become aware of a proposed law or any trucking-related issue, feel free to contact me at 816-229-5791 or email mike_matousek@ooida.com and I will do everything possible to address them.

For example, recently I was contacted by two OOIDA members about potential indemnification clauses in transportation service contracts by companies in Arizona and Missouri. If true, that would be in violation of both state laws. As I write this column, I am in the process of trying to resolve these issues that otherwise would have been unknown were it not for hearing from our members.

As another example, OOIDA Board Member Lou Esposito from Duanesburg, N.Y., contacted me regarding the New York Capital District Transportation Committee’s ongoing stakeholder questionnaire to collect data that will be used to improve freight and goods movement in the state. Using our advocacy capabilities, I was able to email our New York members a direct link to the questionnaire so they could provide their input. This allowed more small-business truckers to make their priorities and concerns known to state freight planners and other transportation stakeholders.

I look forward to working for you during this legislative session and thank you in advance for your help. LL