Archive for March, 2012

Ohio’s Selective Hearing

Friday, March 16th, 2012

The Senate sent a clear message this week that state DOTs cannot fix their budget problems on the backs of small businesses or at the expense of American jobs. But it looks like Ohio is refusing to listen.

Despite the Senate’s overwhelming rejection of Senator Portman’s Amendment to the highway bill, Ohio Transportation officials have said they will continue to pursue commercial rest areas as a means of generating revenue for the state.

The Senate soundly rejected Amendment #1742 to the transportation bill, S. 1813, earlier this week, recognizing the devastating effects that commercial rest areas would have on existing interstate businesses, jobs and local tax revenues.

In speaking against the Amendment, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer said Amendment #1742 would devastate the 97,000 exit businesses nationwide that employ 2.2 million people.

Ohio’s pursuit of commercial rest areas is short-sighted.

Ohio is risking thousands of businesses and millions of jobs just to save 1.7 percent of Ohio’s transportation budget and less than 0.5 percent the overall state budget.

More than 60 organizations opposed Amendment #1742, which would have granted state governments the ability to set up shop directly along the interstate right-of-way, giving states a major advantage over the travel plazas, truckstops, gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants at the exit interchanges.

With an 86 to 12 vote against commercial rest areas, the Senate’s position is clear. Ohio just doesn’t want to hear it.

County Executives Oppose Portman Amendment

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Counties that rely on businesses for tax revenues will be hard pressed to make up significant budgetary shortfalls if the Senate allows commercial rest areas when it votes tomorrow on the amendments to the highway bill, according to the County Executives of America (CEA).

In a letter urging Senators to vote against Amendment #1742 of the highway transportation bill, S. 1813, CEA said commercial rest areas would kill existing interstate-exit based businesses and damage tax revenues.

“County budgets are already strained,” CEA said.  “This initiative would simply shift state budget issues over to the local level.”

In many rural communities, gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores and truck stops represent the largest local taxpayers, contributing more than $22.5 billion in state and local taxes. These funds help to support schools, police and fire departments and other vital public services.

If state governments are permitted to set up shop along the shoulder of the highway, the state government essentially will become the largest competitor of local business owners, CEA said. With an unfair advantage on the highway shoulder, state governments will draw away drivers who typically would exit the interstate and enter local communities to buy food, fuel and other retail items. Ultimately, existing businesses will not be able to compete against these state rest areas; and many won’t survive.

Urgent Request! Senate Amendment Seeks to Commercialize Rest Areas

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Although the Partnership to Save Highway Communities has been fighting efforts to commercialize rest areas in the House of Representatives, a new amendment has been introduced in the Senate that poses a serious threat to businesses serving motorists along the nation’s highways.

Amendment 1742, filed by Senator Rob Portman of Ohio to Senate transportation bill S. 1813, would allow state departments of transportation to open commercial rest areas for the sale of food, fuel and convenience items both on the interstate and on all highways.

This amendment poses the biggest threat retail business owners have ever faced under a highway bill.

The Partnership to Save Highway Communities is urging you to call your Senators today and ask them to vote no to Amendment 1742.

Click here to call or email your Senator.