Legislation that seeks to repeal the 12 percent federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks will stimulate economic growth and put independent truckers back on the road, U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins said during a stop in Lake Charles on Tuesday.

Higgins, R-Port Barre, toured Martin Truck Center and spoke about the effort to repeal the tax. He said President Donald Trump supports measures on tax reform and tax reductions, but some lawmakers in Congress are worried that eliminating the excise tax will lead to lost revenue.

Higgins countered, saying the nation already loses money with fewer truckers on the road.

“That’s another rig that’s not hauling produce or materials across the country,” he said. “That’s another solid American earner that’s not paying income tax, fuel tax, road tax or sales tax on the items he buys.”

Terry Taylor, vice president of operations for Martin Truck Center, said plenty of independent truckers are “sitting on the side” because they can’t afford the additional $40,000 needed to meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements. He said the excise tax typically adds another $12,000 to $20,000 to a truck’s price tag.

“That’s cash you have to have in hand because the banks won’t loan you anything for the taxes you pay,” Taylor said. “So if you can get away from that, you may have more people wiling to get into the business.”

Higgins said the biggest challenge with the legislation lies in the Senate. He said the measure will likely have to be lumped in with a separate bill to win approval.

“I know it’s a win for America,” Higgins said of the measure.

Higgins said he also supports adding an axle to heavy-duty trucks and raising the current gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds. He said the increased weight will not damage existing infrastructure, a concern some critics have raised.

John Guidroz, American Press

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