Ohio’s Selective Hearing

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.

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