Wednesday, July 28, 2010

TruckVote 2010: Know your governors

In the lead-up to Election Day it makes sense to take a look back at some significant actions taken by governors who are once again vying for the votes of truckers and others.

Let’s face it. It can be a chore for voters to recollect even the most notable actions taken by governors during the past four years. While many truckers can recall precisely the actions relative to trucking that have been taken by their governors, others welcome a helpful reminder.

With that in mind, I took some time recently to review actions in many states during the terms of governors who are up for re-election. Today I’ll cover some issues addressed by the governors in Idaho and Illinois.

Shortly after taking office in 2007, Idaho Gov. “Butch” Otter opened more roads in the state to heavier trucks.

Idaho law already allowed tractor-trailers to weigh up to 105,500 pounds. And multiple-trailer trucks with overweight permits can weigh up to 129,000 pounds. Otter put pen to paper in support of a bill expanding the miles of roads affected from 850 miles to 1,200 miles.

The following year Otter implemented a chain-up law. He has also continued to support the “Connecting Idaho” program launched by his predecessor. The program uses bonds to get road work done.

In Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn is running for governor less than two years after taking over for Blago. After stepping in for the embattled governor, it didn’t take long for Quinn to start making decisions that affected the trucking industry.

Quinn grabbed the attention of truckers when he eliminated split speed limits on rural interstates. Despite maintaining the status quo of speed differentials in the “collar counties” surrounding Chicago, he did listen to lawmakers and truckers who have been pushing for uniform speeds elsewhere for several years.

The governor followed up that decision with boosting the fines for idling violations. Truckers went from facing $50 fines to $90 fines. But repeat offenders really face steep increases. What was previously a $150 shot to the arm became a $500 gut punch.

Public-private partnerships have also gotten attention from Quinn. He signed a bill into law this spring that permits the state to partner with private groups to complete the long-sought Illiana Expressway project.

In the coming weeks be on the lookout here for more blogs about certain governors on fall ballots and their actions on truck-related issues.