Gabler to hold town hall meetings addressing veteran and transportation issues

State Representative Matt Gabler (R-Elk/Clearfield) will be hosting a number of meetings intended to address concerns held by his constituency, specifically those pertaining to veterans' affairs and new transportation regulations for truck drivers.Truck drivers' meeting Leah Mollica, legislative assistant with Gabler's DuBois office, said the representative decided to hold a "truck drivers' town hall meeting" in response to numerous inquiries his offices have received from drivers, carriers and business owners who are revved up about a new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) policy requiring a DOT number be obtained by commercial truck drivers and carriers engaged in intrastate commerce, or trade, traffic, or transportation that is confined to the Commonwealth. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at DuBois Area High School. Mollica said that prior to the legislative revision, a DOT number was only required for carriers and individual drivers engaged in interstate commerce or "hauling out-of-state." Under the revised regulation, Pennsylvania carriers engaged in intrastate commerce must have a U.S. Department of Transportation-issued number and must display the number and business name on both sides of a commercial vehicle, even when operating in-state. According to the DOT website, the law is intended to "help identify carriers with serious safety violations discovered during roadside inspections or following truck crashes. Unsafe carriers will be notified of deficiencies and may undergo an operational review to bring them into compliance." Violators of the new DOT number requirement face fines and fees totaling up to $134.50 for carriers and $109.50 for individual drivers.Mollica explained that the rule does not necessarily apply to every hauler and that there are specific requirements contingent upon factors including, most notably, vehicle size. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, rigs with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combines Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR) of 10,001 pounds or less do not necessitate a DOT number. They add that GVWR can be found on a trailer or tow vehicle and the GCVWR can be determined by adding the two numbers together. Mollica said the new requirements affect a wide range of businesses, from excavation to landscaping companies to individual or private enterprises, and that the meetings are designed to be informative and satisfy concerns and questions. She added that many carriers have encountered difficulty in navigating the website and the online application process and that specifics will be addresses at the meeting. Mollica said that representatives from the Pennsylvania State Police will be also be on hand to answer questions attendees may have regarding the legal implications of the regulation. "A lot of them [drivers] are getting stopped, for example in Ohio, and they [police] have started enforcing in Pennsylvania, too. We're getting state police to provide a law enforcement point of view," Mollica said. Mollica said representatives from Congressman Glenn Thompson's office, the State Motor Carrier Transportation division, and Tim Cotter, a Federal DOT spokesman, will also be on hand to interpret or shed light on regulatory details and answer related questions. Veterans' meetingsGabler has also scheduled the first in what is to be a monthly series of veterans' outreach meetings, intended to provide a forum for veterans in which they can address issues specific to the veteran community.“I am proud to partner with the American Legion to ensure local veterans’ concerns are addressed,” Gabler said. “There are more than 11,000 veterans in Clearfield and Elk counties combined, and as a captain in the United States Army Reserve, it is important to me to offer my office to serve as a resource to the men and women who have so admirably served our country.”Area veterans are encouraged to attend the meetings, where they may seek assistance and information pertaining to specific benefits and programs. Fritz Lecker of Gabler's St. Marys office said that issues discussed and specific grievances or questions will be forwarded through the proper channels, and that due to the fact that most veterans' affairs issues are under federal jurisdiction, her office will be working in conjunction with the Elk County Veterans Affairs office and Congressman Thompson's office. Brian Morris of the American Legion office in Erie will also be on hand to help direct the proceedings and provide information."This is for any veterans with unresolved problems or unresolved issues to come down and have their voices heard," Lecker said. The first veterans' outreach meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gabler's St. Marys district office, Suite 2, 53 South St. Marys St.