A bill that would permit States to sell food and fuel from Interstate rest areas is being challenged by the Partnership to Save Highway Communities. In a statement, the coalition said the “legislation would pull the rug out from under the nation’s Interstate-based fast food franchisees, convenience stores, gas stations and truckstops at a time when the businesses are just starting to see signs of recovery from the recession.”

They contend that “Small towns and counties are benefactors, with Interstate exit businesses paying more than $600 million a year to local governments, helping to fund schools, police and fire departments and other local services. The… legislation will result in town and county governments seeing some of their top taxpayers threatened, potentially transferring state budget woes onto local governments.”

Authored by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), the proposed legislation has sparked angry responses from individual members of the Partnership, as well.

“This legislation does nothing more than grant state governments a monopoly directly on the interstate shoulder or median,” said Lisa Mullings, president & CEO of NATSO, a member of the coalition representing truckstops. “The right-of-way location of the commercial rest areas gives the state a major advantage over the businesses at the exit.

“On Interstates where there are commercial rest areas, there are 50% fewer businesses at the exits,” she continued. “By changing this law, the government isn’t creating any new demand from travelers for hamburgers or gasoline. They are simply transferring sales from exits to state rest areas.”