A bill that would substantially raise the starting salary for Kentucky’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers has cleared its first hurdle. The measure faces a tough challenge ahead during a time of considerable budget tightening.
The measure would up starting pay for CVE officers by about $10,000. Proponents told members of the House Transportation Committee much of the training is similar to that for state police troopers. Retired CVE Officer Dwight Sutton says those working to ensure safety of commercial truck traffic are also called upon to assist state police. “You’ve got a guy making a stop or answering a call and he’s making $10,000 less and just because he doesn’t answer the number of calls or make the number of stops somebody else would in sheer numbers is just wrong,” said Sutton.
Testimony also came from Jamie Fiepke with the Kentucky Trucking Association. He says commercial traffic is only going to increase in the years ahead. “Freight is gonna increase, congestion is increasing," said Fiepke. "So we have to have strong vehicle enforcement. We have to have our scales open 24/7. That’s what we would like as an industry.”
Fiepke says a truck weigh station along Interstate 75 in northern Kentucky is currently open less than ten percent of the time.
Florence Representative and former state trooper Sal Santoro there's a distinct difference between state troopers and CVE's. “Totally different selection process, totally different training," he said. "It’s just night and day, totally different. Both needed a pay raise. State police does and also does the vehicle enforcement officers."
Dwight Sutton, meanwhile, says the state CVE force has gone from 300 in the 1990’s to about 80 today. Sutton says attrition is getting worse because of low pay. The bill now goes to the House Budget Committee.