Hooiser Congressmen get weight exemption for motorhomes
Posted: 07/03/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Marilyn Odendahl
A quartet of Hoosier congressmen, including Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, led an effort to increase the weight limit for a single rear axle motor coach by 4,000 pounds. The other representatives joining him were Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, Mike Pence, R-6th, and Larry Buchson, R-8th.
They jointly wrote a letter in January to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, advocating that the Federal Bridge Formula carry an exemption for motorhomes. The formula set the maximum gross axle weight at 20,000 pounds for a vehicle’s single rear axle but allowed the back axle of buses to carry up to 24,000 pounds.
Working with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association and RV manufacturers, the four congressmen were successful in arguing that the exemption should be extended to include motorhomes because they are similar to buses. This spared RV makers from having to install a second rear axle which could have tacked another $10,000 to $14,000 onto the retail price tag of each motorized unit.
“Both the RV industry and people of Indiana can be really pleased about how seamlessly we worked together, how we worked as one to help the state and to create jobs,” Donnelly said.
The highway bill, with the motorhome weight exemption, has been approved by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama this week.
In touting the bipartisan work of the delegation, Donnelly also noted he and his colleagues across the aisle were able to get more highway funds returned to Indiana. Currently the Hoosier state receives about 92 cents for every transportation dollar it sends to Washington. Under the new bill, Indiana will get a minimum of 97 cents.
Christine Siksa, director of government affairs at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, said the weight provision will not dramatically change the RV industry but it will prevent the motorhome sector from being dragged down as it slowly recovers from the economic recession.
Through May, motorized shipments totaled 12,250, a drop of 1.2 percent from 2011 results for the same period.
The RVIA approached the four Indiana Congressmen in the fall of 2011 after hearing concerns from its members about the weight limit. Once the representatives submitted their letter to the chairman and ranking member transportation committee, asking for the exemption to include motorhomes, the association turned its attention to the committee.
The industry and the Congressmen highlighted that the weight of motorhomes has increased recently because of pollution control equipment that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now requires on diesel engines.
In the letter, the Hoosier delegation also asserted upping the limit would not hamper the safety on the roadways but would boost a lagging segment of the economy.
“The motorhome industry was sorely impacted by the economic downturn and is not recovering as well as other sectors of the recreational vehicle industry,” the Congressmen wrote. “Permitting the exemption for motorhomes will enable manufacturers to produce, and dealers to sell, more affordable and desirable motorhomes, resulting in new job creation.”
As a part of the industry’s committee week during June, the RVIA took RV industry executives to Capitol Hill and visited 78 representatives’ offices to discuss the weight exemption.
Keeping the matter in the forefront was important, Siksa said, since it could have easily gotten lost as the debate over the highway bill ranged across a plethora of topics such as student loans, the Keystone XL pipeline and bus safety.