State lawmakers Ross McGregor and Lynn Wachtmann, who are pushing for heavier truck limits on Ohio roads, have businesses that could benefit from the proposed law change but neither of them see it as a potential conflict of interest.
McGregor, R-Springfield, who sponsored the transportation budget bill in the Ohio House, is co-owner of Springfield-based Pentaflex Inc., which manufactures components for truck brakes and axles. Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, who asked for the amendment, owns Maumee Valley Bottling Inc., which delivers bulk and bottled water via trucks.
Wachtmann and McGregor amended the transportation budget bill to allow for 90,000-pound trucks on Ohio roadways, up from 80,000 pounds.
The Ohio Senate removed the heavy truck amendment, added a 70 mph speed limit provision and made other changes, which the House rejected. So now the differences will be ironed out by a six member conference committee, which includes McGregor.
Wachtmann said the railroad industry is afraid of competition so they are raising questions about safety and pavement and bridge damage — and ethics. “For those who are purporting this, they can go get screwed. I’m serious. I’m sick of this,” he said. He said he doesn’t know if raising the weight limits would help his business and noted that his companies do not use 18-wheel trucks.
McGregor also said, “No, I don’t see any benefit to our company … I don’t build the brakes. I just build components that are used in brakes and axles. I don’t think it’s going to cause an increase in volume or business. The market drives that.”
Nonetheless, Pentaflex’s website lists as its customers Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake, Carlisle, Hendrickson and Meritor — all makers of truck brakes or axles.
McGregor said he is considering amending the transportation bill to require haulers of heavier loads to spread the weight over more axles and pay an annual fee to offset the damage done to bridges and pavement.
Curtis Sloan, spokesman for the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, which is funded largely by the railroad industry, said requiring more axles doesn’t necessarily mitigate road damage or safety concerns due to the longer stopping distances. “This is a big deal. This is a very big change that’s being proposed,” Sloan said.
McGregor and Wachtmann see it as good business.
“It’ll allow the state to be more competitive, particularly in the areas of agriculture, logistics and manufacturing,” McGregor said.