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COVER STORY


Department of Transportation, remained only briefly with the association before moving on to other opportunities. The association’s next hire, however,


would remain for many years. Stang, a state representative and then senator who had represented western Montana since 1986, became the association’s director in 2001 and remains there to this day. Stang said Havdahl had educated him on transportation issues during his years in the Legislature. “He was a true genteman,” he said of Havdahl. “He was a good lobbyist. He was courteous. Always gave you any information that you wanted, was very helpful. He’s been very helpful to me after I got this job.” Stang’s experience would prove to be


an important asset. As Laingen described it, “Spook added a lot of political clout ... Spook is an excellent politician. He gets along with everybody. Just a good guy.” Among the biggest successes during his tenure was the tort reform law passed in 2003 that limited punitive damages to the lesser amount of $10 million or 3 percent of a defendant’s net worth. The MCM supported that bill. The MCM also successfully worked with other groups to pass legislation that clearly defines


the difference between employers and independent contractors, thereby ensuring motor carriers can use both. Recognizing how technology has


changed the trucking industry, the Safety Council has changed its name to the Safety, Maintenance and Technology Council. In 2010, the Montana Motor Carriers Association changed its name to Motor Carriers of Montana. But that hasn’t changed the assocation’s and the industry’s commitment to safety itself. Until the first of June, there had not been a single commercial vehicle fatality on Montana’s highways in 2014, and even that accident involved a fire truck driver who did not have a commercial driver’s license. The MCM for many years has participated in the American Trucking Associations’ Share the Road program, which educates the public on driving safely with trucks. As part of that program, it wrapped a trailer with a design scheme promoting safety and then drove that trailer to fairs and rodeos. Recently that trailer was covered in newly designed wrapping with sponsors. “We think that’s probably one of the


biggest things that we do is educate the public on how to drive around trucks and educate


these kids... we think it’s a pretty important program,” Stang said. “Hopefully somewhere along the line we’ve saved a life or two.” Today, the MCM has 350 carrier


members, 125 allied members, and 180 limited members through its Continental Owner-Operators Limited program, which provides insurance and other services at a discounted rate. Membership in the MCM has held relatively steady through the years, which has been a challenge in an era of industry consolidation. The Truck Roadeo has become the Truck Driving Championships and remains a popular event. In 2003, Doris Hanson, a driver for Quality Transportation of Baker, became the first female Driver of the Year for both the MCM and the American Trucking Associations. The MCM’s office is only three blocks from


the Capitol.While that does ensure easy access to legislators, it also puts it at the center of Montana state life. And it all started 75 years ago at theNorthernHotel in Billings. “The thing I enjoyed most about the


association: You always felt that you had your finger on the pulse of the state,” Laingen said. “Not just trucking, but the pulse of the state.” RW


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