State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann is dancing on the line of unethical behavior as he lobbies for a change in the trucking industry that would benefit his own business.
Wachtmann is pushing the plan to raise the maximum weight limit for trucks using state highways from 80,000 pounds to 90,000 pounds. Such a move, he contends, would benefit Ohio’s economy by helping haulers cope with higher prices for diesel fuel.
Of course, it would also benefit Wachtmann, whose business includes bottled water delivery.
The people it won’t benefit are Ohio taxpayers and motorists. Taxpayers will be left footing the bill after the heavier trucks accelerate damage to roads, railroad crossings and other infrastructure. There are also safety issues.
Both truck drivers and members of law enforcement appeared before an Ohio Senate panel last week to testify against increasing the weight limits.
Trucker Andrew Young of North Ridgeville said the added weight will affect trucks’ “mobility, stability and maneuverability.” Only the companies would benefit, he said, because they can ship more goods.
Clyde Police Chief Bruce Gower, a board member for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, called the proposed change “irresponsible.”
“For those of us whose job is to protect the public, it is clear that this bill is nothing more than a tragedy waiting to happen,” Gower said. “It has got to be stopped.”
The two men are part of a coalition against the change that includes associations representing police chiefs, self-employed truck drivers, members of the Ohio AAA auto club and county engineers.
Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray testified in support of the change. He said Wachtmann asked him to address the group. When Wray was quizzed for proof on how the change would help the economy, he could provide no answer. Instead, he emphasized that the maximum-load trucks would drive only state highways. The proposed law retains the 80,000-pound limit on U.S. interstates and local routes that are not part of the state highway system.
Wachtmann is a Republican from Napoleon. His 81st House District covers all of Putnam, Henry and Williams counties and parts of Fulton County.