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Michigan House speaker says taxes at pump should fund roads

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Michigan is among a small number of states to apply the sales tax to motor fuel — a factor in why its gas taxes were sixth-highest in the U.S. as of July, according to the Tax Foundation. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

LANSING, Mich. — New Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield said Michigan will always struggle to fund roadwork until it solves the root problem — drivers pay some of the country’s highest taxes at the pump, but not all of the revenue goes to the transportation budget.

That factor, more than any other, is hampering Michigan’s ability to adequately upgrade roads, he said. Chatfield is leading majority House Republicans who will be critical to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pending push to inject more spending into roads and bridges.

“The fact is, we’ve done bonding in the past and we’re still paying for it. We’ve raised taxes in the past, and our roads are still crumbling,” he told the Associated Press in a recent interview. “We have got to change how we pay for the roads at the pump, and we need to ensure that every single penny paid at the pump is a penny that goes to the roads.”

Chatfield’s focus on taxes assessed at the pump is not new. A 2015 ballot initiative proposed by lawmakers — and soundly rejected by voters — would have doubled per-gallon fuel taxes but eliminated the sales tax on gasoline and diesel to ensure that all taxes at the pump went to transportation.

It was a complicated, multi-faceted proposal that also would have increased the sales tax while boosting spending on education and local governments. GOP legislators and former Gov. Rick Snyder later raised fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees to increase road funding, but the plan has been faulted as inadequate.

Chatfield wants to revisit taxes at the pump. Michigan is among a small number of states to apply the sales tax to motor fuel — a factor in why its gas taxes were sixth-highest in the U.S. as of July, according to the Tax Foundation. The sales tax revenue mostly goes to schools and local governments under the state constitution.

Asked about the potential impact on schools, Chatfield said boosting roads should not come at their expense.

“Let me be very clear: We will not turn back the clock on education funding in this state,” he said.

Removing the sales tax on fuel would require a statewide vote. Another option could be to keep it intact and shift an equivalent from elsewhere in the budget to roads — an approach that already is squeezing the general fund under 2015 road-funding laws. Chatfield said fixing the roads is a priority not just for Whitmer, who campaigned on it, but also lawmakers and residents.

“They made that clear in November,” he said.

Chatfield, 30, is believed to be the youngest House speaker in more than a century, though having speakers who are in their 30s is commonplace in the term limits era.

He graduated from Northland International University, a Baptist college in Wisconsin, and obtained a master’s degree from Liberty University in Virginia. Before winning election to the House in 2014, he was a teacher, coach and athletic director at a Christian school in northern Michigan that was run by his minister father.

Factors in the conservative Chatfield’s victory were his criticism of his Republican primary opponent for introducing a bill to expand the state’s civil rights law to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people and helping to expand Medicaid.

“It was my obligation to either get involved or stop complaining,” said Chatfield, of Levering, which is about 10 miles south of the Mackinac Bridge. “I think the American spirit is one which encourages involvement, and then having children really impressed upon me the responsibility I had to fight for the values I believed in.”

Last year, Chatfield was the lead sponsor of a law that wiped clear outstanding state driver “responsibility” fees for hundreds of thousands of motorists. He unsuccessfully pushed for a state income tax cut in 2017.

He will lead the chamber the next two years before reaching his maximum time in the House. He has emphasized bipartisan cooperation with Democrats while quickly putting his stamp on how legislative business is to be conducted. Many bills will now go before two House committees instead of one before moving to the floor.

“Unfortunately, in the era of term limits we don’t have the opportunity to serve 10 to 20 years and become experts in different fields,” Chatfield said. “I believe that more collaboration and more debate will be healthy for this chamber.”

Top goals, he said, include reducing the high cost of car insurance and changing the criminal justice system to help inmates succeed upon their release and to prevent overcriminalization. He also wants to expand government transparency by opening the Legislature and governor’s office to public-records requests.

“Though we’ll have disagreements, what will define us is our ability to come together and provide solutions,” he said.

 

 

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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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