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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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Ohio’s Scott Woodrome wins top honors at Newsal Truck Driving Championships

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FedEx Freight driver Scott Woodrome stands beside the two trophies he won at the 2019 Newsal Truck Driving Championships. It was the second consecutive year he was named Bendix Grand Champion. He also won the Twin Trailer Division. (Courtesy: AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS)

PITTSBURGH — Scott Woodrome, a professional truck driver from Middletown, Ohio, representing team FedEx Freight, has been named the Bendix Grand Champion of the 2019 Newsal Truck Driving Championships conducted by the American Trucking Associations.

This is Woodrome’s second consecutive year of winning the Bendix Grand Champion trophy.

“Congratulations to Scott and his great team at FedEx Freight, as well as the entire Ohio trucking industry, for repeating as this year’s Bendix Grand Champion Award winner,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This process began with thousands of drivers competing at the state level, but only one driver can emerge as overall grand champion. It’s a true reflection of Scott’s commitment to safety and the trucking industry as a whole that he was able to take home top honors again this year.”

Woodrome, a longtime competitor in truck driving championships with more than 1.8 million lifetime safe driving miles, competed in the Twins division. He has been in the trucking industry for 25 years, spending 13 of those years with FedEx Freight.

Woodrome took home the 2018 Bendix Grand Champion Award for his performance in the Tanker class, as well as the 2017 Newsal Champion Award in the Tanker class and six Ohio state championships.

“It’s been such an honor to host hundreds of our nation’s elite truck drivers this week and showcase their skills as safe professionals,” said ATA Chairman Barry Pottle, president of Pottle’s Transportation. “From start to finish, Pittsburgh was a great location and we loved to see such enthusiastic support from the families and friends who came out to support these impressive drivers.”

ATA also recognized John Sanderson as the 2019 Rookie of the Year. Sanderson claimed the title after an outstanding performance in the three-axle division. To be a “rookie,” drivers must be first-time competitors at the state level who advanced to nationals. This year, there were 32 rookies competing at the Newsal Truck Driving Championships. Sanderson was the only rookie who advanced to the championship round of competition.

In addition to the individual awards, the team of drivers from Pennsylvania went home with the Team Championship. Pennsylvania hosted this week’s competition and had three drivers advance to the championship round of competition. The state of North Carolina took home 2nd place honors, with Virginia coming in 3rd place.

Several individuals excelled outside the driving course throughout this week’s competition, demonstrating their professionalism, knowledge and dedication to the trucking industry. Professional truck driver Robert Dolan of XPO Logistics was recognized with the highly-coveted Professional Excellence award. Additionally, Jason Imhoff of Walmart Transportation is taking home the Vehicle Condition Award for his outstanding performance during the pre-trip inspections.

Nine drivers achieved perfect scores on the written exam phase of the championships and are receiving the Highest Written Exam Award for their efforts. The nine drivers were Paul Brandon, Miguel Corral, Ina Daly, Brent Glasenapp, Julie Hjelle, Barry Kraemer, Jottyn Santos, Jimmie Wisley and Scott Woodrome.

Champions from each of the nine vehicle classes were also announced. Joining Woodrome on the list of national champions include (listed in order of first, second and third with company and home state):

Three-axle: Brian Walker, UPS Freight, North Carolina; Jeffrey Slaten, YRC Freight, Florida; and John Sanderson, FedEx Express, Oregon

Four axle: Adam Heim, FedEx Freight, Idaho; David Rohman, FedEx Express, North Carolina; and James Plaxco, Old Dominion Freight Line, Oregon;

Five axle: David Hall, ABF Freight, Arkansas; Ina Daly, XPO Logistics, Arizona; and Alphonso Lewis, YRC Freight, Alabama.

Flatbed: Basher Pierce, FedEx Freight, North Carolina; Scott Osborne, FedEx Freight, Mississippi; and Eric Flick, FedEx Freight, Nevada.

Sleeper Berth: Mike White, Walmart Transportation, Indiana; Terry Wood, Walmart Transportation, Pennsylvania; and Michael Barnes, Walmart Transportation, Virginia.

Straight Truck: Jason Imhoff; Walmart Transportation, Ohio; Robert Dolan, XPO Logistics, Pennsylvania; and Matthew Hart, FedEx Freight, Nevada

Tank Truck: Paul Brandon, FedEx Freight, Connecticut; George Wells, Shamrock Foods, Arizona; and Cecil Hicks, FedEx Freight, North Carolina

Twins: Scott Woodrome, FedEx Freight, Ohio; David Mogler, FedEx Freight, Colorado; and Shannon Lynch, United Parcel Service, Indiana

Step Van: Adam Stroup, FedEx Express, Nebraska; Gregory Long, FedEx Express, Virginia; and Eric Damon, FedEx Express, Colorado.

ACT 1 served as a premier sponsor of the 2019 Newsal Truck Driving Championships and Newsal Step Van Driving Championships.

Since 2011, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems has been the sole sponsor of the Bendix Newsal Truck Driving Championships Grand Champion.

 

 

 

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Peterbilt Motors opens fifth technician institute campus

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Since launching in 2013, the Peterbilt Technician Institute program has graduated more than 600 factory-certified technicians and boasts a 95% placement rate at a Peterbilt service location. (Courtesy: PETERBILT MOTORS CO.)

DENTON, Texas — Peterbilt Motors Co. has opened the company’s fifth Peterbilt Technician Institute (PTI) campus in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

“The PTI program helps meet the Peterbilt dealer network’s growing demand for entry level qualified diesel technicians.  The unique value proposition for graduates of PTI is finding its graduates jobs that often turn into long-term careers,” said Brian Brooks, program manager for the Peterbilt Technician Institute.

“The 50% growth of the Peterbilt dealer network this decade ensures that there are plenty of long-term career opportunities with our dealers, many of which begin as a diesel technician. Through the Peterbilt Technician Institute, Peterbilt is educating the next generation of diesel technicians to deliver exceptional service and drive uptime for our customers,” added Peterbilt’s Technician Program Manager Curtis Crisp.

Since launching in 2013, the PTI program has graduated more than 600 factory-certified technicians and boasts a 95% placement rate at a Peterbilt service location.

Each PTI student earns 12 Peterbilt certifications as well as certifications for both the PACCAR MX-11 and MX-13 engines as they prepare for a career in the diesel industry. PTI is a collaborative program with Universal Technical Institute.

For more information about Peterbilt, visit www.peterbilt.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nebraska officer earns grand champion award for roadside inspection

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Courtesy: CVSA Sgt. Benjamin Schropfer of the Nebraska State Patrol has earned the 2019 Jimmy K. Ammons Grand Champion Award, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s highest honor for the commercial motor vehicle roadside inspector. (Courtesy: CVSA)

PITTSBURGH — Sgt. Benjamin Schropfer of the Nebraska State Patrol has earned the 2019 Jimmy K. Ammons Grand Champion Award, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s highest honor for the commercial motor vehicle roadside inspector.

After a week of in-depth training and intense competition, Schropfer received the award Saturday at the North American Inspectors Championship (NAIC) here at a joint awards ceremony with the American Trucking Associations Newsal Truck Driving Championships and Newsal Step Van Driving Championships.

Every year since NAIC started 27 years ago, each jurisdiction from Canada, Mexico and the United States is eligible to send one inspector to represent their jurisdiction, receive valuable training and compete against other top inspectors for the ultimate title of NAIC Grand Champion.

This year, 51 commercial motor vehicle inspectors gathered in Pittsburgh, August 13-17 to compete at NAIC, the only event dedicated to testing, recognizing and awarding commercial motor vehicle inspector excellence.

Each contestant competes in six inspection categories. The competition includes a North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria exam as well as thorough assessments of each inspector’s knowledge and expertise by providing various identical vehicles from which contestants must identify regulatory violations and critical vehicle inspection item out-of-service conditions, all while being timed. Contestants are tested on real-world vehicle and driver inspection scenarios and must appropriately evaluate the situation and properly identify violations within the recreated roadside inspection scenario. Inspectors are tested on the out-of-service criteria, inspection procedures, hazardous materials/dangerous goods requirements, passenger carrier vehicles and more.

In addition to the NAIC Grand Champion Award, other notable awards were earned by this year’s competing inspectors.

The one inspector who scores the most points representing each of the three participating countries in the competition receives their country’s High Points Award.

The following High Points Awards were presented:

  • Sean McAlister High Points Canada Award: Brittany Linde, British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
  • High Points Mexico Award: Gustavo Ruiz Alvarado, Policía Federal
  • High Points United States Award: Benjamin Schropfer, Nebraska State Patrol

First, second and third place awards are given for the following inspection categories:

The North American Standard Hazardous Materials/Dangerous Goods and Cargo Tank/Bulk Packagings Inspection is an inspection of the requirements related to identifying hazardous materials/dangerous goods markings, labeling, placarding, packaging, identification, etc.

  • First Place: Brittany Linde, British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Second Place: Michael Trautwein, local member, Houston Police Department
  • Third Place: Benjamin Schropfer, Nebraska State Patrol

The North American Standard Level I Inspection is the most commonly performed inspection. It is a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness.

  • First Place: Delaney Malsbury, Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
  • Second Place: Benjamin Schropfer, Nebraska State Patrol
  • Third Place: Andrew James – Arkansas Highway Police

The Team Award is given to the team with the highest combined score. The team with the highest score this year was the Blue Team, led by team leader Joe Manning with Pennsylvania State Police. The Blue Team had the following members: Brittany Linde, British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure; Stanton Ishii, Hawaii Department of Transportation; Ryan Dahm, Iowa Department of Transportation; Herbert Bradley, Kansas Highway Patrol; Level Walley, Mississippi Department of Public Safety; Benjamin Schropfer, Nebraska State Patrol; Tommy Torok, South Dakota Highway Patrol; Jose Najera, Texas Department of Public Safety; and Vidal Zamora – U.S. DOT/FMCSA.

This year, NAIC contestants voted to present the John Youngblood Award of Excellence to Joshua Bradley with the Georgia Department of Public Safety. The John Youngblood Award of Excellence is an honor NAIC contestants bestow upon a fellow NAIC inspector who exemplifies high standards and unwavering dedication to the profession. It’s the only award that is awarded to one inspector by their peers. Inspectors vote for the inspector who exemplifies the spirit of cooperation, leadership, a professional image, a dedication to their profession, a positive attitude, organizational ability and congeniality.

“I started my CVSA career 16 years ago at the 2003 North American Inspectors Championship in Columbus, Ohio, so this competition is near and dear to my heart,” said CVSA President Chief Jay Thompson with the Arkansas Highway Police. “I know firsthand what an honor it is to be selected by your agency to compete on behalf of your jurisdiction against the best of the best inspectors from across North America. Each competing inspector – whether they receive a trophy or not – leaves NAIC as a winner.”

In addition to the competitive events, each inspector receives hands-on training on the latest safety information, technology, standards and procedures, while sharing ideas, techniques and experiences with fellow inspectors. Since NAIC is co-located with ATA’s championship, certified inspectors and professional drivers are in an environment where they can interact with, learn from and support each other throughout the week.

NAIC was created to recognize roadside inspectors and enforcement personnel – the backbone of the commercial motor vehicle safety program in North America – and to promote uniformity of inspections through training and education.

Next year’s NAIC is scheduled for August 18-22, 2020, in Indianapolis.

 

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