By failing to sign them into law, Gov. David Walters killed
two major trucking industry bills enacted this year by the
"I'm very disappointed, of course," said Vince Robison,
president of the Associated Motor Carriers.
"I suspect that activity, in concert with the other things
that have happened, will end the trucking industry's efforts here
in Oklahoma to develop our state as a marketing, warehousing and
Pocket vetoed were Senate Bill 185, which would have
established a Trucking Commission to take over the
responsibilities of the TISRAD committee, or Trucking Industry
Self-Funded Research and Development, and Senate Joint Resolution
16, which would sanction vehicle weights up to 90,000 pounds on
the federal interstate highway system in Oklahoma.
Both measures were co-authored by the legislative
transportation committee chairmen, Sen. Gene Stipe, D-McAlester,
and Rep. Larry Adair, D-Stilwell.
The loss of Senate Bill 185 means the demise of a funding
source for the trucking research projects established in 1987
with the creation of the TISRAD effort. The TISRAD committee was
funded by a $75,000 annual appropriation, which was dropped from
the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's funding bill for the
fiscal year that begins July 1.
Under Senate Bill 185, funding for the research projects was
to come from an assessment on vehicles, based on weight. The bill
gave truckers the opportunity to opt out of the program, sort of
like the checkoff promotion program for beef.
TISRAD would have been phased out, effective Dec. 31.
"We've been dealing with a company for about two and a half
years to come to either Oklahoma City or Tulsa," Robison said.
"Their equipment value for their tractors is $50 million, and $31
million for their trailers. The employee range would be about
1,000 employees," he said.
"We'll be having some lengthy discussions with them. They
specifically wanted to come here, because they wanted to
participate in what we were doing in Oklahoma," Robison said.
"But we're just going to have to tell them the truth."
Walters said the funding mechanism for the Trucking Commission
"would unfairly require the small farmer, rancher or businessman
to subsidize the funding of the commission, since operators of
larger vehicles would be given the option of opting out of the
assessment put into place to fund this new state agency."
According to Senate Bill 185, trucking operators could opt out
of the assessment, but no refund would be allowed for amounts of
$15 or less. Trucks weighing 30,001 pounds to 51,000 pounds would
be assessed $12 per year; those from 51,001 pounds to 72,000
pounds, $15 per year; and above 72,001 pounds, $18 per year.
Oklahoma Tax Commission data showed that 85 percent to 90
percent of independent owner operators register to the maximum
truck weight of 80,000 pounds, and "only a very small percentage
of the vehicles registered in categories below 72,000 pounds are
independent owner operator vehicles."
Under those circumstances, 85 percent to 90 percent would owe
$18 per year, so they would have been eligible to opt out.
"I know there's been a mixed debate as to the effectiveness of
all of it," Walters said, referring to the TISRAD research. "I'm
not anxious for all of it to go away," but the terms of Senate
Bill 185 and the Trucking Commission didn't seem like a fair
trade off, he said.
The governor added that he "doesn't write the legislation,"
but he tried to weigh it up and down when he received the bills
In his prepared news release, the governor said he supported
public-private partnerships to "further develop and enhance
Oklahoma's transportation system." But "creation of a fully
staffed, stand-alone state agency to foster the development of
one element of this industry was unwarranted, when the people of
Oklahoma are asking for a reduction of the overall size of state