JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Two Missouri state lawmakers are looking to begin the conversation anew to the state’s weigh in motion scales (WIM’s).
The issue of weight stations in the Show-Me State took the spotlight this session when the issue of Drivewyze and HELP, Inc. became a topic of much contention. Reports of an FBI investigation were leveled, with a few questioning whether employees of the Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol should be sitting on the boards of companies they help regulate.
Rep. T.J. Berry, who filed legislation seeking to prohibit members from sitting on those boards, and Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation who lead an effort to convincingly defeat Berry’s bill, sent out a letter on Tuesday attempting to schedule times for a meeting to discuss how to move forward in regards to those weigh stations.
“When business interests clash over territory and market share often the public interest can become clouded,” the message read. “It is our goal to reset the conversation and start fresh in finding solutions that work for everyone.”
The two representatives have proposed the possible dates of May 31 or June 7 at the Capitol at 11:00 a.m.
But some question the need for a meeting seeing that MODOT has essentially settled the issue.
“I find the timing of the meeting odd considering two vendors have signed or have said they planned to sign an MOU relating to this work,” Aaron Baker wrote in an emailed response to the representatives. Baker is a lobbyist for Axiom Strategies.
He said that it was unusual to see legislators ask a private company to allow another private company to use private assets, and share their data.
“I have read that DriveWyze plans to move forward and install their own sensors and has them ready to go ‘on a dock’ somewhere. If that’s the case then I assume that means they’ll soon be signing an MOU? If not, Brian Heath has lied to the media and by saying that the sensors are ready to go,” Baker wrote. “If what Brian Heath has said is true, he needs to stop delaying and sign the MOU and install the sensors like HELP has by securing a private loan that they’re continuing to pay off – and go ahead do business in Missouri. No one is blocking Drivewyze from doing so.”
Karen Rasmussen, the president and CEO of HELP, Inc. responded to the invitation, saying she thought it would be a conflict of interest for HELP or MoDOT to attend, as the state still has an RFP pending.
“We also have serious concerns that such a meeting might interfere with MoDOT’s administration of its pending RFP.In our proposal responding to the RFP, HELP committed to continue to provide bypassing services and to maintain existing WIMs to meet ASTM Type III standards, and we intend to do so. We are pleased that the State has accepted our RFP proposal, and we have signed the MOU with the State and are ready to proceed.”
Drivewyze, who has long sought the government’s help in forcing them to use HELP’s sensors, however, is expected to be there for the meeting.
“Drivewyze will be attending the meeting regardless of whether HELP Inc is present. I am chagrined that HELP Inc has initially chosen not to participate in a dialogue about the future of weigh in motion scales in Missouri,” Richard McIntosh said on behalf of Drivewyze. “It is a disservice to Missourians to not have a conversation about the inconvenience and un-necessity that cutting up the roads will have for the traveling public this summer. No one wants to sit in slow, crawling traffic when I-70 goes down to one lane, not to mention the accidents that inevitably happen from this situation.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.