PAUL HAMPTON: Measures that are bad for truckers, roads, other drivers, can’t hide in bill

Another rider would end a move toward mandatory minimum insurance, and the third rider could force states to allow truckers to pull two 33-foot-long trailers, a change the Mississippi Department of Transportation opposes. Officials there wrote U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which would be the first stop for the bill in the Senate, to tell him so. The longer trucks would also be heavier, bad news for our roads.

“Sen. Cochran is focused on advancing the Senate’s FY2016 transportation appropriations bill, which has not yet been scheduled for a markup,” Cochran spokesman Chris Gallegos said. “The expectation is that these and other transportation policy issues could be considered as part of Sen. Cochran’s commitment as chairman to allow Senators to openly debate and vote on provisions in all appropriations bills. In the meantime, Sen. Cochran will study these issues as they are presented in the context of legislation before Senate.”

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has some doubts.

“Sen. Wicker is opposed to the twin 33-foot tractor trailer provision and the truck size and weight exemptions,” Wicker spokesman Ryan Taylor said. “He believes the remaining issues should be debated and thoroughly vetted during the upcoming consideration of the MAP-21 authorization — not attached to an appropriations bill as ‘riders.’

“The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, of which Senator Wicker is a senior member, is likely to take action on the bill in the coming months.”

Then there is U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-4, who twice voted against efforts to remove the riders, once in committee and once on the House floor. He didn’t respond to requests for an explanation.