Trucking industry questions RIDOT’s Federal Court phobia

BOSTON (Jan. 2, 2020) – Today, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) filed a petition with the First Circuit Court to rehear its case that truck-only tolls represent taxes, and therefore, should be moved to state courts for resolution.

On December 5, the First Circuit unanimously ruled that tolls were, in fact, user fees and firmly rejected the state’s position that they represented taxes which were protected by the Tax Injunction Act. That court decision paved the way for the case to be remanded back to Rhode Island Federal District Court on December 26. However, on December 26, RIDOT sought an extension of its deadline for filing this petition until today when it filed.

“RIDOT and the Governor are clearly running out the clock and using every conceivable delay tactic within their means to keep this case away from the federal courts,” said Rhode Island Trucking Association President Chris Maxwell.

“For over four years, they have assured taxpayers and voters that their plan is rock solid and will past muster in terms of its legality and constitutionality, yet they continue to turtle when it comes to their case being heard in the federal court.”

The American Trucking Associations with co-plaintiffs Cumberland Farms and M & M Transportation Services is currently suing RIDOT over what it deems to be an illegal truck-tolling scheme that violates interstate commerce. Any action or resolution of the matter, either way, cannot occur until jurisdiction is established, yet RIDOT continues to pursue a favorable state court as its venue despite strong appeals court ruling.

“Either the state fears the decision of the federal courts or it is kicking the can down the road to allow more time to further establish its network of gantries to a point of no return, or both,” said Maxwell.

“Or perhaps Gina Raimondo is buying time for her toll-obsessed counterpart in CT to get his vote on truck tolls through the CT legislature before the walls come tumbling down in courts. Either way, we are being tolled and damaged, perhaps illegally, and simply want this thing resolved win, lose, or draw.”

RITA maintains its position that daily toll caps and legislative protections against tolling of cars are vulnerabilities that will soon disappear and leave taxpayers and consumers with a heavy price tag.

Contact: Chris Maxwell at (401) 729-6600 or (401) 265-4638.

About RITA

The Rhode Island Trucking Association, Inc. (RITA) is a chartered, nonprofit organization whose membership is made up of truck owners, fleet owners, private and for hire motor carriers, and allied industries. Since 1931, RITA has represented and promoted all motor carrier interests on the state level. RITA, the only statewide trucking association, has been a member of the American Trucking Associations since 1944.

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RITA Staff

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