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Investigative Hearings Set For Red Dye Diesel Fines

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight will hold investigative hearings into red dye diesel fines. State Senator Michael Parson made the announcement on Thursday and said the hearings are necessary to check enforcement and fine issues by the department of revenue.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Senator Michael Parson is concerned about off-road fuel tax citations.

"What I really got interested in was the enforcement portion of it, just because I had a career in law enforcement," Parson said. "I'm trying to figure out what was our reasoning for stopping somebody to pull a sample."

Off-road fuel is often used in construction and farming-- most notable by its red dye. The fuel is colored because it's exempted from highway taxes. It has less sulfur than traditional gasoline.

According to state law, it is illegal to use of this type of diesel in vehicles driven on roads and highways. As a result, the Missouri Department of Revenue will conduct inspections. What concerns senator parson is how it is enforced.

"We found out they are probably going on private property to take samples," Parson said. "There needs to be due process.  Regardless if it's the Department of Revenue, it's the highway patrol, or local law enforcement. There's due process in what we're doing. You have to have probable cause."

But it wasn't only that-- Parsons said he's heard from constituents that the Department also issued excessive fines, one adding up to a value of $72,000. He said fines can go all the way up to $100,000.

"That concerned me because crime did not fit the punishment," he said. "It just seems like it's a pretty overreach of government."

As a result, he is heading the investigative hearings into the red dye diesel fines.  According to a statement by the Missouri Department of Revenue, the Department "will conduct fuel inspections when requested by law enforcement."

Parsons said he is not in disagreement with the unlawful use of diesel fuel, but hopes the investigative hearings will bring answers to questions of enforcement.

"If we're doing something wrong, government, the state government, then it needs to be corrected-- it needs to be corrected immediately," he said. "The second thing is they need to revamp the program to make it more constitutional.

Parson said the Missouri Department of Revenue has been cooperative so far in working out this issue. The hearings will take place in Jefferson City next Wednesday.

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