Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Innovation Delayed

Posted by Adam Graham on April 14, 2009

If you’ll recall, Rep. Marv Hagedorn (R-20) did something very rare in the annals of government. He proposed a real life genuine innovative idea that could raise tens of millions for transportation:

Hagedorn retired in 1994, after 20 years in the service. Now, during his second term in the Legislature, he’s hoping to turn Idaho into the U.S. Mint of commercial truck license plates.
Unlike personal vehicles, commercial trucks and tractor-trailers can be licensed and registered in any state, regardless of where a company is based. That, to Hagedorn, creates a marketing opportunity. He introduced a bill earlier this session that would encourage trucking firms to register their fleets here.
“I’ve been working on this for a few years,” he said. “My objective is to find a resource the state has that would help relieve the tax burden on citizens, without competing with private businesses – and this is a great opportunity.”

Idaho already offers a permanent plate that doesn’t require yearly registration renewals. For a company like Wal-Mart, which has more than 50,000 tractor-trailers, eliminating paperwork and the need to match specific trailers with specific renewal stickers represents a substantial cost-savings, Hagedorn said.

Idaho law, however, currently requires out-of-state truckers to pay sales tax on the price of the trailer before they can buy the permanent plate. That makes it cost-prohibitive.

Hagedorn’s bill would remove the sales tax requirement.

 Moreover, it authorizes the creation of special “business logo” license plates – meaning Wal-Mart or UPS or any other company could design their own plates, complete with corporate logo and marketing slogan.

“Everyone is looking to save a buck,” Hagedorn said. “We can make this simple for corporations and help save them money just by changing state law. It costs $3 to make a license plate, and we’d sell them for $112. There are 5.6 million semi-trailers in the United States. That’s a $627 million market.”

Add in Canadian trucks, he said, and the market potential climbs to $1 billion.

“Imagine if we get just 10 percent of that,” Hagedorn said. “In the past, we’ve looked at taxpayers within our border (to generate state revenue). This could bring in revenue from outside the state. There are opportunities out there. We just need to find them.”

Hagedorn’s bill was approved 64-0. Every member voting from Bob Nonini to Anna Pasley-Stuart said this was a good bill and sent it the Senate on March 23rd. That was 3 weeks ago.

Since then nothing has happened with this bill. Nada. Zip. Zero. While our state searches desperately for Transportation funds, Senator John McGee (R-10) the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Commitee sits on a bill that could bring tens of millions of dollars of revenue to Idaho roads with costing Idaho taxpayers anything.

When people are talking about raising our taxes, while sitting on funding that could raise funds without raising our taxes, it’s time for you and I to light a fire under our elected representatives.

I urge you to contact the members of the Senate Transportation Commitee and urge that a hearing be given on this vital bill. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 334-2222 or you can call the Transportation Committee at 332-1332 or you can use the Contact by Committee search on the Idaho Legislature website. 

Chair John McGee
Vice Chair James C. Hammond
Shawn Keough
Tim Corder
Leland G. Heinrich
Joyce M. Broadsword
Chuck Winder
Elliot Werk
Diane Bilyeu

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