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Arkansas bill would tap revenue, raise tax for highways



Arkansas State Republican Rep. Dan Douglas says if the state doesn’t do something, it’s just going to let its highways continue to deteriorate and fall apart. (Courtesy: ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas lawmaker on Monday proposed tapping into tax revenue from car sales and imposing a new tax on motor fuels to raise money for the state’s highways, a proposal that quickly drew opposition from the state’s Republican governor and Democrats.

Republican Rep. Dan Douglas said he hoped the bill he filed would start the conversation on highway funding, which legislative leaders and Gov. Asa Hutchinson have called a priority for this year’s session. No funding plan had emerged as lawmakers entered the third week of this year’s session.

“Here’s the thing: If we don’t do something, we’re just going to let our highways continue to deteriorate and fall apart and then wait until the bill comes due,” Douglas said. “We have to do something.”

Douglas’ proposal calls for gradually diverting up to $120 million a year in tax revenue from car sales to highways over a four-year period. The state would begin diverting the money once its gross sales tax revenue exceeds $2.5 billion a year. In the first year, the state would transfer $30 million to highways and would increase that by $30 million a year until reaching $120 million.

The proposal also calls for imposing a 3.5 percent sales tax on the wholesale price of motor fuel, which Douglas estimated would raise another $100 million to $120 million a year.

Hutchinson has said he’s usually opposed to diverting general revenue to roads and that he couldn’t support Douglas’ plan.

“Pulling additional money from general revenue is not the answer,” the governor said in a statement. “We are already devoting $50 million a year from state revenue to the highway department. Doing more will only create new problems elsewhere and will negatively impact education, prisons, public safety and more.”

Democrats, who have raised similar objections to tapping general revenue, also said they were worried that it could open the door to even more money being diverted later.

“This is in a way the most important time to stand up against general revenue being diverted to highways,” Democratic Rep. Andrew Collins said.

The motor fuel sales tax is also likely to face resistance in the majority-Republican Legislature, with many GOP members vowing opposition to any tax increase. Since it’s imposing a new tax, Douglas’ proposal would require only a simple majority rather than the three-fourths needed to increase existing taxes. Republican House Speaker Matthew Shepherd has said he would prefer for the Legislature to look at existing revenue before considering any tax increases. He reiterated that stance Monday.

Republican Senate President Jim Hendren said he expected to see more work on highways once lawmakers tackle Hutchinson’s proposed income tax cut.

“I think you’ll see half a dozen ideas, serious ideas, floated out there and we’ll just see which one of them solves the problem and has the ability to pass the Legislature,” Hendren said.




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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. James Stark

    January 29, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    I feel that more distracted cell phone drivers & “choker chained” drivers on ELD stressed out to driver harder would be the main reason for the uptake in crashes, than increased speeds; As a governed driver for 25 yrs, I know what a disaster of driving bunched up would be especially if ALL trucks were limited (example NASCAR Talladag “big one” crashes; As to trucks needing more room to stop, yes but any experienced driver knows this & maintains the appropriate safe following distance (heavier vehicles have corresponding larger braking capacity-disc brakes & tighter stopping distance regulations have been a move in a positive direction

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The Nation

Diesel heads up 4 cents a gallon to $3.006



Diesel prices jumped 4 cents a gallon to ring up Tuesday at $3.006. (The Trucker file photo)

For the past several months, including the end of 2018, all the “experts” said oil (and consequently diesel) was going nowhere but up. It had to, they reasoned, after prices had almost literally scraped the bottom of the barrel.

Then oil and diesel both went down for weeks. After that it stayed the same.

Now diesel prices are finally up — 4 cents a gallon — to $3.006 a gallon Tuesday from $2.966 a gallon last week.

Normally, diesel prices would have been announced Monday, but since it was President’s Day, diesel prices were released Tuesday.

And it may be a testament to how long prices had been going down or stayed flat that none of the U.S. Information Administration’s 10 reporting regions were clocking $4-a-gallon diesel, not even California, where diesel was ringing up at $3.739.

Also, four regions were still below $3 a gallon as of Tuesday.

And although 4 cents a gallon for the on-highway national average was a significant jump from the week before, the Lower Atlantic and Midwest regions each jumped 5.5 cents a gallon. Diesel in the Lower Atlantic sector went from $2.872 last week to $2.927 Tuesday while in the Midwest, diesel prices went from $2.849 last week to $2.904 today.

The Gulf Coast had the lowest prices at $2.809 a gallon, up 3.3 cents from the week prior.

Is this the start of an upward trend? It’s hard to know what oil prices will do in a global economy that is teetering since what seems like a bandwagon jump out of the European Union.

Meanwhile, oil was trading up:

U.S. crude added 48 cents to $56.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after gaining $1.19 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 16 cents to $66.34 per barrel, The Associated Press reported.

For diesel prices by sector, click here.

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The Nation

Ohio governor to reveal gas tax hike plan Thursday



Ohio's tp Transportation Department executive says the state is facing an "impending crisis" unless more road funding is provided. (The Trucker file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll announce Thursday his proposed recommendation for increasing the state’s gas tax to deal with a chronic shortfall in spending on road construction.

DeWine, a Republican, says there are no other solutions outside a gas tax increase, while warning that any increase simply keeps Ohio from falling behind.

He wouldn’t provide details or say what the proposed increase will be. He spoke at an annual forum sponsored by The Associated Press.

DeWine says the increase is “just to keep us where we are today.”

The head of the Ohio Department of Transportation director said earlier this month that Ohio’s road maintenance and infrastructure are facing an “impending crisis” unless more funding is provided.

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The Nation

OOIDA Foundation issues information it says debunks driver shortage ‘myth’



Most carriers with high turnover do so by design, says OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions,” he said.

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s research foundation published two new documents it says debunks the driver shortage “myth.”

A fact sheet explains how the industry isn’t afflicted with a shortage of drivers, but is actually plagued with overcapacity and driver retention, the foundation reported.

A second, accompanying document talks about how wages have decreased for truck drivers at large carriers and many have moved toward smaller fleets.

Last year, the association also created a short video that explains why there is high turnover as opposed to a shortage.

“We are concerned about the perpetuation of a myth of driver shortage,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA President. “This misinformation is used to push agendas that are harmful to the industry and highway safety.”

To address the supposed driver “shortage,” some organizations have suggested that the age requirement to obtain a commercial driver’s license should be lowered from 21 to 18.

“If safety is the top priority when considering a change to a regulation, when it comes to age, the number should be raised, not lowered.” Spencer said.

OOIDA also contends that any issue with retention could be mitigated with other solutions that would be safer for all highway users.

For example, compensation has been shown to be tied directly to highway safety, as revealed in studies that suggest there is a strong correlation between driver pay and highway safety, Spencer said.

“Most carriers with high turnover do so by design,” he said. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions. But putting younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck isn’t the solution because it does nothing to address the underlying issues that push drivers out of the industry. It merely exacerbates the churn.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area.




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