Pennsylvania Turnpike Tolls Unconstitutional

Constitutional Challenges to State Taxes, News

WASHINGTON, DC – The Cullen Law Firm, PLLC filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc. (OOIDA), the National Motorists Association, and individuals representing the potential class of motorists who use the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The lawsuit filed on Friday, March 16, 2018 in the federal district court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg) names as defendants the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and its members, along with the Secretary of PennDOT, and the governor. The Plaintiffs claim that Pennsylvania’s practice of diverting toll revenues collected on the Turnpike to fund unrelated state projects is an undue burden on commerce and a violation of toll-payers’ constitutional right to travel.

Tolls for driving on the Turnpike have increased every year since 2008, when the tolls increased by 25%, and are expected to increase every year until 2044. The increases spring from Pennsylvania’s use of the Turnpike as a source of cash for other activities that include installing bicycle lanes in state parks, re-roofing a public transit bus garage, adding decorative crosswalks, and constructing rail lines for the benefit of private businesses. The funding scheme was enabled by a 2007 Pennsylvania statute that calls for the Turnpike Commission to raise turnpike tolls in order to make payments of billions of dollars to PennDOT for use in projects that have no functional relationship with the Turnpike.

Plaintiffs have sued on behalf of Turnpike users to halt the Turnpike Commission’s transfer of toll revenues to the state to support projects which all taxpayers should pay. The plaintiffs also seek refunds of excess tolls previously paid.

The complaint is available HERE.

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