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ASSOCIATION INSIGHTS


ATA: Dear Trucking Industry Executive


A


s you know, ATA is currently involved in complex, high-stakes litigation against the state of Rhode Island, challenging its discriminatory toll scheme


that subjects tractor-trailers — but no other vehicles — to highway tolls. Public policy litigation like this is extraordinarily costly. We need your help to continue pressing the case to a successful conclusion.


This litigation is of paramount importance to the entire trucking industry, not just those carriers who use Rhode Island’s highways. We all know that tolling is the wrong way to fund our nation’s highway infrastructure needs — and truck-only tolling is simply unacceptable. If Rhode Island gets away with it, and with Congress currently unwilling to fix the loopholes that Rhode Island is exploiting, we can be sure that other states will go down the same path. Indeed, states like Indiana, Wyoming, and Connecticut have openly expressed interest in following Rhode Island’s lead.


Immediately at issue in this litigation is the tens of millions of dollars that Rhode Island is taking from the pockets of motor carriers like you each year, by tolling overpasses at an effective rate of hundreds of dollars per mile. But more broadly at stake is ensuring that states cannot unaccountably use the interstate trucking industry as a piggy bank to avoid tough revenue and spending decisions, whether through truck-only tolls or other truck-only fees like vehicle-miles-traveled taxes.


This case commenced in July 2018. Since then, ATA has successfully appealed the district court’s initial dismissal


of the case, and successfully resisted a second attempt by Rhode Island to dismiss the case — with a decision holding that Rhode Island’s tolls are unlawful if ATA can prove at trial that they discriminate against out-of-state commercial interests. Earlier this summer we began preparing for that trial, currently scheduled for January 2021. This preparation is proving to be exceptionally resource- and time-intensive, driven by a deep-pocketed state defendant that has every incentive to make our challenge as expensive and drawn-out as possible. While we are doing everything possible to manage our spending, there is simply no way to get through trial without incurring legal fees, expert witness costs, and other associated expenses far beyond our budgeted resources.


We believe we have a strong case, and while of course there are never any guaranteed outcomes in complex litigation, dropping the effort is not an option. Especially in these difficult economic times, we do not ask lightly for your financial support. But the trucking industry needs to show that we are united and will not submit to this kind of


extortion without a fight. Please consider a contribution to help us continue aggressively pursuing this matter.


Any contribution you make will be money well spent in the defense of the industry, and will amount to a small fraction of what you stand to lose if truck-only tolling takes root. Together, let’s send a clear signal that states need to look elsewhere for sustainable ways to meet their highway funding needs. Donations can be made at https://www.trucking.org/law-litigation. If you have any questions on donations, please contact Elisabeth Barna at ebarna@trucking.org.


Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.


By Chris Spear, ATA President & CEO ® 31


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