As we begin the harvest season in Indiana, I wanted to share a piece of legislation from last session that did not get much attention but was extremely helpful throughout the state and particularly in our district.
As farmers start gathering their crops, we will begin to see an increased number of trucks on our roads, transporting those goods from city to city and state to state. Our district also sees a lot of truck traffic because we are home to Alcoa Warrick Operations - one of the largest aluminum smelting and fabricating facilities in the world as well as AK Steel – a producer of the widest sheet metal in North America.
This past session, I co-authored legislation to allow the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) or a local authority to grant permits for transporting overweight divisible loads. With a permit, these loads may begin using state highways but these provisions will only be temporary, allowing INDOT enough time to adopt a permanent rule. We wanted to take our time and make the best decisions on this matter without compromising our competitive edge in the meantime.
The need for such legislation came to our attention because our neighboring states, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio already allow overweight vehicles with distributed loads to operate on their roads. When we first began discussing this legislation in committee, a representative from the Agro Business Council explained that they had recently lost an economic development opportunity when an agricultural business decided to locate in Ohio instead of Indiana. They made that decision because they could get more grain per truckload through distributed load permitting.
What this meant was any truck coming into Indiana from those states had to off-load part of their cargo before entering. You can imagine the burden that might pose not only on their time but also their pocketbooks.
As a result of this bill, a fee for a permit consists of $20, plus $0.05 per equivalent single axle load mile. The permit fees generated from this bill will be placed in the State Highway Fund. This actually incentivizes trucks to distribute their loads because in doing so, they will pay a reduced permit fee. This greatly benefits the state as well because more divisible loads translate to less damage to our roads.
In July, I had the pleasure of visiting AK Steel where I was able to hear and see firsthand the impact this bill has had on their operations. For them, this was a green initiative. It provides cost avoidance by allowing them to move multiple coils per load while also reducing their fuel consumption and emissions.
Indiana is the most manufacturing intensive state in the country. Given that, this legislation seemed like a no-brainer. It is imperative that we are able to compete both within and without the state and this bill does just that. In addition to this being an economic development issue, increased axles means better braking capacity, less road wear, less traffic and fewer emissions.
My goal in authoring this legislation was to make it as easy as possible to do business in our great state. When it comes to these issues, I believe that should always be our primary goal. As we work to attract new business to Indiana we must remember to do everything we can to keep the business we already have. Do you know of any impediments to business in Indiana that you’d like to see changed? If so, I want to hear about them! I can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 317-232-9674.