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Michigan to Vote on Allocation of Truck Fines

March 13, 2000

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The Michigan Senate will soon vote on legislation, already approved by the House, that would prevent cities from receiving the revenue from fines imposed on overweight or unsafe trucks.

The state's cities are currently empowered to enforce their own truck safety ordinances and allocate the fines as they wish. The legislation would redirect the local fines to local libraries, courts and roads.
Supporters of the bills, including a number of trucking groups, say they will stop localities from using the fines to finance local police truck inspection units, which examine trucks for violations such as overweight loads or defective equipment.
A 1994 law granted localities the power to enact truck safety ordinances and enforce them. Prior to that, the task was left to the State Police, and the fines were directed to libraries.
Robert Patzer, executive director of the Association of Underground Contractors, one of the groups supporting the legislation, gave the Detroit News examples of "egregious" or overzealous enforcement actions by local police officers. Mr. Patzer also contends that
some cities are using the truck fines to gouge truckers for local revenue.
But Livonia Mayor Jack Kirksey, speaking for the Conference of Western Wayne County, which includes 11 cities and seven townships, told the Michigan Legislature that the loss of the revenue could prevent some cities from effectively conducting inspections to catch such items as defective brakes or fuel leaks. If localities don't do it, he added, it won't get done, which will have a serious impact on highway safety.
Dearborn Mayor Mike Guido told the Detroit News that while his city last year collected some $160,000 in fines, the city's police budget is $21 million, so the city is hardly making a major profit through enforcing truck regulations.

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