Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Get involved: Your state lawmakers are back at work

Only days into the New Year and state lawmakers around the country already are converging at statehouses to address issues of significance to their state. By the end of this week nearly 20 states will be back at work.
This is a great time to open up the line of communication with your elected officials. In the months ahead, much discussion is expected to take place about changes affecting transportation, and the trucking industry, in statehouses around the country.

States are not easing back into the swing of things either. Lawmakers from coast to coast are scheduled to be back at work by the middle of this week. In all, more than two-thirds of the nation’s state legislatures will have convened their 2012 sessions by mid January.

This is a huge election year. In addition to the presidential election, more than 80 percent of elected officials at the state and federal levels of government will be on ballots this November. It is likely to create some increased urgency among lawmakers to reach out to their constituents as they work to secure votes for the fall.

This year’s legislative labors are certain to be especially critical to the way you conduct your trucking business – an opportunity to use to your advantage. Issues likely to receive attention in state legislatures across the country include fuel taxes and fees, highway tolls, and privatization, to name a few.

It would be nice if we could rely on lawmakers to look out for our best interests, but for the most part they have no idea what those issues are. As a result, it’s your responsibility to clue them in.

There are several ways to educate your lawmakers: Make a phone call to their offices, send them email, write a letter or meet with them in person. Also be sure to connect with them on social media sites.

Each method of communicating with your elected officials is important. The preferred method of communication depends on the office. Be sure to call their office and ask for the best way to correspond with the lawmaker. This also serves as a good way for you to introduce yourself to the lawmaker and their staff.

You can monitor the Web sites at ooida.com, landlinemag.com and landlinenow.com or tune in to “Land Line Now” on Sirius-XM for daily updates on legislative action in your state. For in-depth coverage and a state-by-state accounting of action that relates to your business, read “OOIDA’s State Watch” in every issue of Land Line Magazine. And the most complete roundup of state legislative efforts can be found here.

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Contact your elected officials and express your concerns.

Editor’s Note: If you become aware of a new law proposed in your home state that would affect trucking, call Land Line at 800-444-5791 and ask State Legislative Editor Keith Goble to place it on the Association’s watch list. You can also e-mail the information to mailto:state_legislative_editor@ooida.com.