Chris Bertram, senior staffer on the House Ground Transportation Subcommittee, said weight-distance taxes are "not as far-fetched as you'd think."
Speaking to trucking executives at the American Trucking Assns. summer meeting in Arlington, VA, Wednesday, Bertram said that Sen. John Chafee's proposal to replace three separate truck levies with a weight-mile tax may get more support than truckers expect.
The Rhode Island Republican aims to raise the taxes that the heaviest trucks pay into the Highway Trust Fund, because he believes they do not pay their fair share for highway damage. (See "National Weight Distance Tax Proposed," http://www.heavytruck.com/hdt/newsarch.html#990524.1778.)
Bertram sees a precedent for the truck tax change in recent legislation to change the 10% flat tax on airline tickets to a segment tax. It is "not inconceivable" that Congress will undertake a tax bill this year that contains changes in how the Highway Trust Fund is funded, he said.
On another matter, Bertram threw cold water on the idea of raising truck weight limits. There is little stomach in Congress for heavier trucks, he said, in reference to a proposal by Rep. Merrill Cook, R-UT, to allow states to raise the weight limit to 97,000 pounds (See "Bill Would Allow States To Raise Truck Weights," http://www.heavytruck.com/hdt/newsarch.html#990507.1708.).