Truckers petition for rehearing against Indiana’s excessive and discriminatory tolls

2021-04-01 | Press Release – OOIDA

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

1 OOIDA Drive, Grain Valley, MO 64029
Web Site: www.ooida.com
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Contact: Norita Taylor, norita_taylor@ooida.com
Headquarters: (816) 229-5791

For Immediate Release


Truckers petition for rehearing against Indiana’s excessive and discriminatory tolls

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a petition on March 23 for a rehearing in a lawsuit against excessive and discriminatory truck tolls in Indiana. An opinion was issued from the Federal District Court in Indianapolis March 9 that the tolls are not subject to Commerce Clause restrictions as argued by the Association.

In 2019, OOIDA had filed a class action suit challenging a 35 percent increase in tolls imposed on drivers of heavy vehicles as unconstitutional. The increase was intended to raise $1 billion for Indiana’s “Next Level Connections Program.” The lawsuit named the Indiana Finance Authority, the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation and Governor Eric Holcomb.

OOIDA said the toll was burdensome, discriminatory and violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In October 2019, OOIDA had sent a letter to the governor expressing objections to the plan.

OOIDA’s lawsuit says the tolls are not only excessive but are also used to subsidize services and facilities provided by the state that have no functional relationship to the Indiana Toll Road.  Those state projects included $100 million “to bring high-speed, affordable broadband access to underserved areas;” $90 million for hiking, biking and riding trails; $600 million toward the completion of I-69; $190 million for various highway projects; and $120 million to add more nonstop flights at the Indianapolis airport.

OOIDA says adding more tolls for trucks shifts the burden for Indiana’s infrastructure costs from the citizens of Indiana to truck drivers who use the toll road. OOIDA also contends that Indiana can’t evade its constitutional obligations to users of the toll road by entering into a public-private partnership and allowing an entity other than the state to fix and collect the tolls

“The tolls on truckers specifically targets out-of-state users,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA. “The Indiana governor seems to think that, in his own words, ‘capturing other people’s money’ is an acceptable way to solve his state’s serious funding problems. However, truckers are not rolling piggy banks and should not shoulder all the burden.”

In March 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana dismissed the suit. The district court held that Toll Road tolls were not subject to Commerce Clause limits because the tolling of I-90 falls within the “market participant” exception to the Commerce Clause. This exception applies to a state’s activities in a particular economic market and permits a state to conduct itself in that market, as long as it performs only those actions available to private market participants.

OOIDA contends the Second Circuit court has expressly disagreed with a previous Seventh Circuit market participant decision that that tolls are subject to Commerce Clause limits as expressed in Supreme Court precedent. Similarly, the Ninth Circuit has repeatedly held that a state or local government’s operation of channels of interstate commerce (like pipelines and roads) is not market participation free from the Constitution’s limits on the economic burdens states can impose on interstate commerce.

OOIDA asks the entire Seventh Circuit Court to rehear the case based on these conflicts with the Supreme Court and Second and Ninth Circuit Courts. OOIDA seeks an injunction to stop further imposition of the toll increase along with refunds of excessive tolls paid since October 2018.

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