State trucking association drives concerns to state capitol
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
It rolled up to the Mississippi State Capitol Wednesday morning to unload a message to lawmakers as they prepare to pass legislation and implement policies that could affect the state's trucking industry.
"Without trucks our economy stops," said David Roberts, President of the Mississippi Trucking Association.
Roberts says the state's well being is largely driven, quite literally, behind a wheel like the one inside the tractor trailer parked outside the capitol.
"Those men and women that are out on the highways and byways are safely moving our economy," Roberts said.
From keeping taxes low to supporting economic policies of business growth, Roberts says the issues, all happening within the capitol, have large impacts on how goods are moved across the state.
Mississippi's trucking industry provides one out of 13 jobs in the state and more than 86 percent of Mississippi communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods.
"We predominantly represent small companies here in Mississippi, mom and pop operations that are family owned and operated and we want to have an environment under which they can operate," Roberts said.
That's more than enough to get the attention of Representative Forrest Hamilton.
"I need to know the facts of what's going on on our highways and the transportation in the state," Hamilton said.
Hamilton says lawmakers need to understand as much as possible before passing legislation dealing with transportation and what impacts it could have as well as develop ways to shift the economy in high gear.
"I'm a pharmacist and I'm on public health and I know nothing about transportation," Hamilton said.
Complete with a simulated driving course the high tech truck gives lawmakers who aren't so familiar the opportunity to hop into the drivers seat and understand the challenges and needs when the rubber meets the road.
"Anything we can do as a legislator to help make our roadways safer, I think it's very incumbent upon us to do that," said Senator Sally Doty of Brookhaven.
With more than 4,800 trucking companies in Mississippi, to maintain a successful workforce, the association is hoping legislation with them in mind will help pave the way.
One of Mississippi's own truck drivers, Rickey Oliver of Brookhaven, was selected as the 2011 National Driver of the Year and was recognized by the legislature.