At a three-day meeting last month at OOIDA's headquarters in Grain Valley, MO, the association's board of directors tackled a long list of agenda items. Topping the list was the progress of OOIDA's fuel surcharge bill, HR4441.
As the directors assembled, senators were packing up to go home for the election with plans to return for a lame duck session on Nov. 14. Stepping up efforts to contact senators face-to-face while they are in their home districts was discussed, as well as asking members to make as many phone calls as possible, alerting senators to the importance of the bill. The mood was up, as various directors recounted meetings with key lawmakers who have promised to support the bill.
With the election only days away, directors were presented with a list of issues that contributors to OOIDA's Political Action Committee fund feel are most important when choosing how to direct the association's resources. Number one on the list is keeping black boxes out of trucks, followed by making hours-of-service regulations more realistic, mandatory detention payments for loading/unloading, as well as shipper load/receiver unload. Next on the list was keeping tolls off existing highways, establishing penalties for shippers, receivers, brokers, etc. who induce drivers or carriers to violate safety regulations, and maintaining the current limits on truck sizes and weights. Increasing the business meal tax deduction, keeping the border closed to Mexican trucks, a review of the trucking exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act, requiring mandatory entry-level training for new truckers, and a legislative review of how driver compensation affects safety rounded out the list. These issues are under constant review by the board, and action continues on several fronts.
Members can now access OOIDA's Motor Carrier Rating System, though owing to the newness of the program, information is still limited. As more and more members contribute information, the system is expected to be a valuable tool for owner-operators shopping for a new lease. Soon members will also be able to find a reputable repair shop through OOIDA's Shop Rating System. Another new program expected to be in place soon is OOIDA's owner-operator retirement plan. In the coming months members should be receiving information about OOIDA's safety recognition program.
OOIDA general counsel Paul Cullen Sr. reviewed progress of the association's legal actions, with the preliminary injunction against Ledar Transport (see story page 18) making the top news spot. Many other lawsuits are in varying stages of pre-trial actions, some with trial dates expected this spring. In the case of Tennessee, the association is waiting to hear on a motion to recoup additional attorney's fees covering the long appeal procedures against the now-defunct Public Service Commission.
The board discussed and debated a number of issues, including hours of service, small business loans, engine brakes, theft of services, construction zones, performance-based brake testers, length and width exclusive devices, cargo securement and medical examination certificates.
-Ruth Jones, senior editor