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Michigan gas tax hike stalled; governor says fixing roads still No. 1 issue

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan roads are the worst in the country and are "downright dangerous." (The Trucker file photo)

LANSING, Mich. — With her proposed 45-cents-a-gallon fuel tax hike stalled, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday that fixing the roads is still the “No. 1 issue” despite the Republican-led Legislature prioritizing an overhaul of Michigan’s car insurance law.

“People want our roads fixed. That is the No. 1 issue, and there is crickets at the Capitol right now on that front,” she said after speaking at an infrastructure summit in Lansing. “I put out a real plan to solve it, and that’s what I want to spend my energy focusing on.”

The House and Senate last week approved different bills that would cut the highest auto premiums in the country by letting people opt out of mandatory unlimited medical coverage for crash injuries. Whitmer, who vowed to veto the legislation due to “a lot of shortcomings,” said “there might be a path forward, but it’s too early to tell.”

She made clear, however, that her priority is raising $2.5 billion in tax revenue for roads, as part of a budget plan to also free up money for education by stopping financial “shell games” that have been used to patch potholes.

“Our roads are the worst in the country. They’re downright dangerous. They’re hurting our ability to maintain our edge in the mobility sector and lure investment in the state of Michigan,” said Whitmer, who has been traveling the state to sell her first budget plan.

Her desire to address deteriorating road conditions and GOP legislative leaders’ prioritization of car insurance changes has sparked speculation that they could strike a broader deal — raising gasoline taxes and reducing auto premiums.

Whitmer stopped short of linking the issues, though, saying the budget should be done before lawmakers break for the summer so K-12 districts can set their spending for the next school year.

“These guys have got to get off the dime and get moving on actually fixing the damn roads in the state of Michigan,” she said.

While Republicans are not ruling out a more modest tax increase to boost road construction, they have not outlined a major alternative in the two months since Whitmer proposed the unpopular 45-cent gas tax hike. A plan up for a vote in the Senate on Wednesday would increase road spending by $132 million — well short of what business groups and others say is needed — by accelerating the shift of income tax revenue under 2015 transportation-funding laws.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, a Levering Republican, does not seem interested in linking road funding with car insurance.

“I’m not sure why I would negotiate one for the other,” he said last week. “I can certainly have two conversations at one time, but I will not trade good policy for bad.”

The House GOP is having ongoing conversations about road funding and how to “deliver the right plan, not the most simple plan,” Chatfield spokesman Gideon D’Assandro said Tuesday.

Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey of Clarklake, pointed to the Senate’s plans to more quickly transfer general funds to roads and then outline a larger proposal in the summer.

“We’re also focused on delivering cheaper car insurance options and look forward to working with the governor,” she said.

With Whitmer promising to not sign a spending plan unless the road-funding issue is resolved, budget talks appear likely to stretch over the summer months and potentially into the fall. The fiscal year starts October 1.

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The Nation

Big rig causes 100-year-old bridge to collapse in North Dakota

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This undated photo provided by Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department shows the overweight semi that caused the collapse of a small, historic bridge near Northwood, N.D. Authorities say the semi, with a trailer load of dry beans, was traveling on the 56-foot-long, restricted-weight bridge over the Goose River Monday. (Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department via AP)

NORTHWOOD, N.D. — Sheriff’s officials say an overweight semitrailer loaded with dried beans caused a more-than-century-old bridge to collapse in North Dakota.

Grand Forks County sheriff’s officials say the bridge over the Goose River near Northwood collapsed Monday afternoon. Photos show the wooden and iron span buckling under the weight of the vehicle. The bridge is partly submerged in the water.

Police said a 2005 Peterbilt semi-truck was driving on the bridge when the structure reportedly crumpled beneath it, causing the trailer to hangover the west abutment.

The 56-foot-long bridge was built in 1906 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It has a 14 ton weight restriction. Sheriff’s officials say the semitrailer was 29 tons over that limit.

The driver, who was not injured, faces an $11,400 overload fine.

Officials say it will cost up to $1 million to replace the bridge.

It was not immediately clear if weight-limit signs were posted, and police said the incident was still under investigation

Northwood is about 200 miles northeast of Bismarck.

 

 

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Business

Women In Trucking names its 2019 top woman-owned businesses

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Angela Eliacostas is the founder and owner of AGT Global Logistics, one of the companies the Women In Trucking Association has named its 2019 Top Women-Owned Businesses in Transportation. (Courtesy: Women in Trucking)

PLOVER, Wisc. —  The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has announced its annual list of the “Top Woman-Owned Businesses in Transportation.”

The names of the companies being recognized in 2019 were released in the latest edition of Redefining the Road, the official magazine of WIT.

WIT created the list was created to recognize women in leadership and encourage more women to become proactive leaders in their organizations and even start their own businesses, WIT president and CEO Ellen Voie said. The program supports WIT’s overall mission “To encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize the obstacles they face.”

Entrepreneurship is a viable means of economic self-sufficiency, and many women are choosing an enterprise connected to transportation to be part of their career aspirations, according to Brian Everett, publisher of Redefining the Road.

Companies considered for the recognition must meet criteria that includes majority ownership by a woman, financial stability and growth, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Each company was nominated and chosen based upon business success and accomplishments, including those related to gender diversity.

This year’s list includes companies from a diverse range of business sectors in the commercial freight transportation marketplace, including motor carriers, third-party logistics companies and original equipment manufacturers.

Companies named to the 2019 “Top Woman-Owned Businesses” list and their primary female business owners are:

  • Bennett International Group; Marcia G. Taylor, CEO
  • Kenco Logistics; Jane Kennedy Greene, chairwoman
  • London Auto Truck Center; Donna Childers, vice president
  • Rihm Family Companies; Kari Rihm, president and CEO
  • Veriha Trucking, Inc.; Karen Smerchek, president
  • Rush Trucking Corp.; Andra Rush, CEO
  • Aria Logistics; Arelis Gutierrez, CEO
  • Lodgewood Enterprises; Arlene Gagne, president
  • S-2international, LLC; Jennifer Mead, CEO
  • International Express Trucking; Karen Duff, president and CEO
  • Brenny Transportation, Inc.; Joyce Brenny, CEO and founder
  • Knichel Logistics; Kristy Knichel, CEO
  • Garner Trucking; Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, CEO
  • LYNC Logistics; Cindy Lee, president
  • Ontario Truck Training Academy; Yvette Lagrois, president
  • AGT Global Logistics; Angela Eliacostas, owner and founder
  • Powersource Transportation; (Barb Bakos, president
  • LaunchIt Public Relations; Susan Fall, president
  • United Federal Logistics, Inc.; Jennifer Behnke, president
  • BCP Transportation; Nancy Spelsberg, Ardis Jourdan, Kristie Rozinski
  • Ladybird Logistics Ltd.; Felicia Payin Marfo, managing director
  • DGT Trucking; Donna G. Sleasman, owner
  • RFX Inc.; Kimberly Welby, president and CEO)

These companies will be recognized during a special program at the Women In Trucking Accelerate! Conference & Expo, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Dallas. For more information, visit WomenInTrucking.org.

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The Nation

Can you say oversized load!

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That is big!

 

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