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Arkansas governor unveils $300 million highway funding plan; includes gas tax hike

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas on Monday, February 11, 2019 about his proposed highway funding plan. (Associated Press: ANDREW DEMILLO)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. โ€” Arkansas’ governor on Monday unveiled a $300 million highway funding plan that calls for increasing taxes and tapping into expected casino revenue, hoping to win over fellow Republicans who have said they want to address road needs before taking up his proposed income tax cut.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and legislative leaders detailed the highway plan five weeks into a legislative session where they said road funding would be a priority . The state Senate last week approved Hutchinson’s $97 million tax cut proposal, but it’s faced resistance from some GOP lawmakers who have said they want action on roads.

Hutchinson called his proposal the best way to address a growing gap in road funding without diverting money from needed services.

“This plan achieves the right balance,” Hutchinson said at a news conference at the state Capitol. “It is affordable, it is prudent for our budget and it is reasonable.”

Hutchinson’s proposal includes asking voters next year to extend a half-cent sales tax for roads that was approved in 2012. If approved, the sales tax would raise nearly $206 million a year for state highways.

Lawmakers would have to approve the other $95 million in additional funding. It includes a wholesale tax on fuel that would raise gasoline prices by 3 cents a gallon and diesel prices by 6 cents a gallon. The proposal would also dedicate at least $35 million in tax revenue expected from new casinos, restricted reserve funds or other general revenue. Voters last year approved a constitutional amendment legalizing casinos in four counties, including at a Hot Springs horse track and West Memphis dog track. The proposal would also impose additional registration fees for hybrid and electric vehicles.

The proposal would also raise an additional $110 million a year for cities and counties to maintain local streets and roads.

House Speaker Matthew Shepherd said he believed the proposal would help win over some GOP lawmakers withholding support of the tax cut plan until they saw a highway proposal.

“The highway discussion, for a number of members, is something they wanted brought to the forefront now as opposed to waiting,” Shepherd, a Republican, said.

Hutchinson said relying on the anticipated casino revenue would ensure the state isn’t shifting existing funding from other state needs. Democrats, who have also opposed diverting existing funding toward roads, said they were cautiously reviewing the plan.

“I think that piece on making sure none of our services, particularly education, are touched … is what we have the most questions about,” Democratic Rep. Megan Godfrey said.

The proposal was applauded by the Arkansas Trucking Association, which had urged lawmakers to come up with a highway funding plan. But a conservative group, Americans for Prosperity, opposed the plan for its tax increases and extensions.

Republican Rep. Dan Douglas said he was disappointed with the proposal and called it “problematic” to cut the state’s top income tax rate while backing increases that will hit poorer residents hardest. Douglas, who has advocated dedicating tax revenue from car sales to roads, said the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

“It’s kicking the can down the road,” Douglas said.

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

WIT’s Ellen Voie wins inaugural Cinderella to CEO of the Year honor

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Women In Trucking Association President Ellen Voie, left, accepts a copy of the book โ€œFrom Cinderella to CEO, How to Master the 10 Lessons of Fairy Tales to Transform Your Work Lifeโ€ from its author Cary Broussard. Voie was named the 2019 Cinderella to CEO of the Year. (Courtesy: WOMEN IN TRUCKING)

PLOVER, Wis. โ€” Women In Trucking Association President and CEO Ellen Voie has been named the 2019 Cinderella to CEO of the Year โ€” along with winning her award category โ€œClimbing the Beanstalkโ€ โ€” for cultivating an innovative improvement to the workplace to create inroads for women to achieve career goals and enhanced work-life balance opportunities for all genders.

The Cinderella to CEO Awards recognize women who have overcome obstacles to change businesses, communities and industries for the better.

The inaugural awards, inspired by the book โ€œFrom Cinderella to CEO, How to Master the 10 Lessons of Fairy Tales to Transform Your Work Lifeโ€ by Cary Broussard, honored 200 women across industries and communities who were nominated for the awards.

“Our goal is to accelerate the successes of women who have worked hard and helped others to also succeed by connecting them to opportunities and each other,” said Broussard, CEO of Broussard Global. “In 2030, women in the U.S. are expected to control 75 percent of the wealth in this country. We want the wealth to be in the good, caring hands of those who strive to make the world a better place.”

Nine category winners, including Voie, were recognized by a distinguished Cinderella to CEO panel of judges for their support of other women, their transformational ability to overcome obstacles and barriers, and their desire to motivate others to accomplish their dreams. Each award category is tied to a chapter in Broussard’s book.

โ€œI am so honored to receive the very first Cinderella to CEO award, as there were hundreds of nominations featuring some amazing women who have done truly notable and altruistic projects,โ€ Voie said. โ€œI am especially thrilled to be recognized by an organization outside the trucking industry, which makes the award even more special.โ€

Women In Trucking Association is a nonprofit association established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry. Membership is not limited to women, as 17 percent of its members are men who support the mission.

 

 

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FMCSA explains Hours of Service proposed rule

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10 finalists named in search for top rookie military veteran driver

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Last yearโ€™s top military rookie Quinton Ward sits in the cab of his new Kenworth with Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. (Courtesy: KENWORTH TRUCK CO.)

KIRKLAND, Wash. โ€” The top 10 finalists have been named in the search for the top rookie veteran driver.

Kenworth has teamed with the FASTPORT Trucking Track Mentoring Program and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundationโ€™s Hiring our Heroes Program to find the top rookie military veteran, who has made the successful transition from active duty to driving for a commercial fleet.

The top 10 finalists with their military branch and current truck fleet include:

  • Chris Bacon/U.S. Marines/TMC Transportation
  • Thomas Blitch/U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves/Werner Enterprises
  • Wade Bumgarner/U.S. Navy/Veriha Trucking
  • Joseph Campbell/U.S. Marines and U.S. Army/Roehl Transport
  • Keso Going/U.S. Army/Epes Transport
  • Steve Harris/U.S. Marines/Stevens Transport
  • Kevin Lassing/ U.S. Army/U.S. Xpress
  • Maliq Melton, U.S. Army, Melton Truck Lines.
  • Monte Morrone/U.S. Army and U.S. Marines/Prime Inc.
  • Tim Raub/ U.S. Navy/Averitt Express

Drivers were nominated by trucking companies that made a hiring commitment and pledge to hire veterans on www.truckingtrack.orgย  or, by members of the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, or Commercial Vehicle Training Association-member school.

โ€œThis yearโ€™s competition in the โ€œTransition Trucking: Driving for Excellenceโ€ program features an outstanding group of 10 finalists, who are representing their fleet and branch of military service. On behalf of Kenworth, we appreciate their dedication to excel as truck drivers in their new profession, and we are grateful for their military service to the country,โ€ said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director.

โ€œIt is important for organizations across the United States to especially reach out to our veterans to help them make a smooth transition back into civilian life. This is one way that the trucking industry is doing its part,โ€ said Brad Bentley FASTPORT president.

During the Great American Trucking Show August 22-24 in Dallas, three finalists in the recognition program will be announced as Americaโ€™s top rookie military drivers. All 10 drivers will receive special recognition at the President George W. Bush Library during a tour and reception. The final winner will be announced in December.

For further information on the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award program, please visit www.transitiontrucking.org.

 

 

 

 

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