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IDAHO’S TRUCKING INDUSTRY DIVIDED ON PORTS-OF-ENTRY BILL

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Idaho's trucking industry may send two competing voices to Boise next month when legislators consider transferring the ports of entry to the jurisdiction of the Department of Law Enforcement.

That agency is now housed within the state Department of Transportation.But management problems, particularly within the north-central Idaho regional offices at Lewiston, have prompted Gov. Cecil Andrus to propose the move. He did much the same thing in 1991, but lawmakers blocked it.

Last month, Andrus won a key ally. The Idaho Motor Transport Association's government relations committee registered its support of a draft bill. The IMTA represents about 300 trucking companies and suppliers.

But the trucking industry's main link to the Transportation Department has unanimously rejected the idea. The 12-member Motor Carrier Advisory Council reached that decision Dec. 12.

The 12 members are gubernatorial appointees, selected on the basis of region and different aspects of the trucking industry.

Key to their opposition is the idea that the ports function pretty well throughout the rest of the state. The problems tend to be associated with the Lewiston operation, said advisory council chairman Jim Pingree of Lewiston, co-owner of Star Motor Freight, Inc.

"I think the bottom line from what the committee is saying is if you get a car with one bad wheel, why buy a new car," Pingree said.

Moreover, many of the members were unhappy with the way the state police ran the ports until the early 1980s, he said.

Inspectors at the Lewiston port have complained their management is more interested in accommodate the trucking industry than in enforcing truck weight standards. Transportation officials have denied the allegations.

IMTA President Paul Sudmeier noted his group agreed to support the Andrus bill if it includes an advisory committee.