An Arizona Department of Transportation officer checks a driver’s paperwork during an inspection at the Mariposa Port of Entry in March 2017. A Phoenix-area lawmaker wants the state Department of Public Safety to serve as the lead state enforcement agency at Arizona ports of entry rather than ADOT.

Local representatives are opposing two House bills that could imply changes for state-level commercial truck inspections at Arizona ports of entry.

House bills 2030 and 2458 propose that the Department of Public Safety take over “the primary responsibility of enforcing the laws of this state at all ports of entry in this state,” as opposed to the Arizona Department of Transportation, which currently oversees the commercial inspections at local ports alongside the state Department of Agriculture.

State Rep. John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), who sponsored both bills, did not respond to email or phone messages seeking comment on his reasoning behind the bills.

State Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon (D-Sahuarita), who represents Nogales and the rest of Santa Cruz County as part of Legislative District 2, told the NI she is opposed to the plan.

“Our ports of entry are not broken, except perhaps in terms of resources, so I do not see a need to make this change,” Gabaldon said in an email. “ADOT works well with law enforcement and the trucking industry, which has resulted in increased safety compliance, lower operating costs and safer roads.”

During last week’s Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Bruce Bracker expressed the board’s opposition to both bills, and their intent to lobby against it.

“We’ve worked hard with ADOT to create conditions where ADOT is working on compliance to get the trucks through the ports of entry at the speed of business, and it is really, really important to us that the relationship with ADOT continue,” Bracker said during the meeting.

The current commercial truck inspections, Bracker told the NI, consist of ADOT sending their border liaison unit to train truck drivers and mechanics who volunteer for the course – an inspection process that has a failure rate of only .002 percent.

“It’s a really effective thing and that’s good for everybody because nobody wants to have their commodities on a truck that gets impounded or sent to a mechanic before it can be delivered to a warehouse,” he said, adding that the proposed House bills would also affect Arizona’s other commercial ports in San Luis and Douglas.

Bracker said the heart of the matter is that ADOT is a compliance agency, while DPS is a law enforcement agency.

“The county’s concern is that the effort to train drivers and have that high compliance rate would go away,” Bracker said. “Everybody believes in safe roads, everybody believes in safe transportation, but there’s just two different ways to get to the same (result) and we support ADOT’s.”

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