OOIDA Sues Indiana Governor Over “Discriminatory, Burdensome” Truck-Only Toll Increases
Indianapolis, Indiana – The Owner Operators Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, along with other state agencies alleging the state’s new “truck-only” tolling increases along I-90 are “burdensome, discriminatory and violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb unleashed the ire of many in the trucking community when he approved a plan last year to raise tolls on Class 3 and larger vehicles a hefty 35% along the 157-mile stretch on I-90. The increases went into effect on October 5, 2018, and have roiled many in trucking ever since.
In response, OOIDA filed a class action lawsuit against the Indiana Finance Authority, the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co., and several state officials, including Gov. Eric Holcomb in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on Wednesday.
At the heart of the lawsuit is who benefits and who pays for that benefit. Since the citizens of Indiana is the primary beneficiary, OOIDA argues it is “discriminatory” to raise the tax on trucker’s passing through the state without imposing the higher tax on those who live in the state. “Thus, the new tolling scheme discriminates against interstate commerce,” the complaint stated.
In addition to OOIDA, the named plaintiffs in the case include: Utah-based Chutka Trucking, Ohio-based B.L. Reever Transport, and OOIDA members Mark Elrod and Monte Wiederhold.
OOIDA is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent all defendants from continuing the 35% truck-only toll increase, as well as a judgment for damages.
In a statement, OOIDA President Todd Spencer said, “This targets trucks disproportionately to contribute to revenues within the state that have nothing to do the road itself. Clearly, this action is completely discriminatory to trucks.”
Further, Spencer expressed his belief the defendant’s have violated the Commerce Clause. “They’ve made their intentions clear in that they are looking for out-of-state trucks to provide a disproportionate share of revenues to the state in what we believe is a clear violation of the Commerce Clause,” he said.
Spencer said Governor Holcomb and supporters of the tax increases where treating truckers like “rolling piggy banks.”
“The governor has admitted publicly that the increased tolls on truckers were intended for out-of-state users. He seems to think that, in his own words, ‘capturing other people’s money’ is okay. He would be very wrong about that,” Spencer stated.
Rachel Hoffmeyer, Holcomb’s press secretary, responded to OOIDA’s charges in a statement. Hoffmeyer said, “We do not believe there is any issue of constitutionality regarding the transaction. We will vigorously defend the lawsuit.”
So the battle lines have been drawn. Transportation Nation Network will continue to follow this story.