ATA Suing States Over Interstate Commerce Restrictions
November 9, 1999
The American Trucking Assns. is suing two states over regulations it says place an unfair burden on out-of-state carriers and violate U.S. Constitution provisions prohibiting states from interfering with interstate commerce.
The ATA plans to sue New Jersey over its ban of interstate trucks on certain roads and New Mexico over two fees imposed on trucking. The New Jersey restrictions, initially issued as an executive order last summer by Gov. Christine Whitman, ban 102-inch-wide trucks not domiciled in the state to roads that are part of the National Highway Network.
For the most part, that means Interstate highways such as 80, 287 and 95. For a good part of its length, 95 is the New Jersey Turnpike, a toll road. The ban has the effect of forcing out-of-state trucks to pay Turnpike tolls.
ATA President Walter B. McCormick calls the ban "an unreasonable and highly discriminatory burden on interstate commerce." The group initially tried to explain the unconstitutional aspect of the regulation to the state legislature and Department of Transportation, but without success.
The association is also proceeding with plans to challenge the legality of two fees imposed on trucking by New Mexico.
New Mexico imposes a $250 annual fee on motor carriers for permits to transport hazardous materials. It also imposes a $6 per truck annual fee relating to a vehicle-specific truck-cab card that the state issues in conjunction with its weight-distance tax. The state uses these cards to process carriers through the ports of entry.
According to ATA, unapportioned flat fees such as these unconstitutionally burden interstate commerce. The association has won victories against similar fees in Wisconsin and Arkansas.