By Sandi Soendker
In early April, the OOIDA Board of Directors spent nearly a week in Grain Valley, MO, to nail down the Association’s agenda for 2010 and to sharpen strategies for upcoming initiatives.
In what one board member called “OOIDA’s own HOS listening session,” Association leadership opened up a dialogue on hours-of-service rules, currently under review again by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz reported that five public listening sessions and thousands of submitted comments have made it clear to the FMCSA that the rules must allow for flexibility. Rajkovacz led a discussion on what aspects of the HOS rules could be modified as a result of the agency’s latest attempt to revamp the current hours-of-service rules.
Each of the board members had the opportunity to voice opinions and concerns over controversial points such as the following: Should the restart harmonize with the Canadian 36-hour rule? Is the 11 hours driving limit good? Should you have the ability to “borrow” hours from the next day? Should teams be able to split their sleeper berth time?
The consensus and input provided at the meeting will guide the Association’s position in the latest HOS fray. President Jim Johnston said OOIDA plans to file comments as soon as the FMCSA announces the proposed rules in the Federal Register. A draft of the proposed regs is scheduled to go the Office of the Secretary of Transportation sometime this month. It’s FMCSA’s plan to publish to the Federal Register in November.
Federal legislative matters like highway funding and regulatory headliners like CSA 2010 claimed top spots on the agenda. Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, along with OOIDA’s Director of Government Affairs Rod Nofziger, reported and moderated discussion on cross-border trucking with Mexico.
Nofziger reported on the progress of OOIDA’s goal for significant improvements in freight broker oversight/reform. The Association’s goal is to see the broker bond increased to $100,000 and to include freight forwarders.
OOIDA Government Affairs Counsel Laura O’Neill reported on the employee versus independent contractor classification.
“Reclassification is being viewed as part of the Obama middle-class task force agenda. Trucking could very well be impacted, so we are watching closely how they will accomplish their objectives,” said O’Neill.
O’Neill and Rajkovacz updated the board on the current status of the electronic on-board recorder rule. Trucking companies with a 10 percent or greater HOS violation rate in one compliance review will be required to have an EOBR per the new FMCSA regulation. The rule is effective June 4, 2010, and full compliance is scheduled for June 2012.
They also discussed the detention time investigation now being conducted by the U. S. Government Accountability Office.
“OOIDA very much encouraged the House T&I Committee to have this issue studied,” said Rajkovacz, “since it is such an important issue to small-business truckers and leads to billions of dollars – FMCSA’s own figures – of lost productivity.”
Bill Rode, who was appointed by Johnston as interim treasurer to serve until fall 2012, gave the financial report.
Johnston delivered the business report and litigation update.
OOIDA’s Director of Security Operations Doug Morris reported to the board on transportation security issues, including the First Observer program. Morris said 67 calls from truckers enrolled and trained in the First Observer program have resulted in major investigations.
Morris also reported on the progress of the Transportation Alert Communication and Emergency Response (TRACER) program launched in the spring of 2009 by OOIDA. The program is a two-way communication system, which sends alerts to members and coordinates information received from members. Morris said TRACER can be credited with the recovery of numerous trucks and trailers.
OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Mike Joyce and Rajkovacz reported on OOIDA’s top environmental related concerns, including climate change legislation, idle-reduction tax incentives and EPA fuel mileage standards.
While the Association remains committed to the fuel tax as the primary way to fund highways, the system known as “vehicle miles traveled” tax was a topic of discussion, particularly its role as a consideration for a federal user fee system.
Mike Joyce reported on the basics of VMT and its correlation to the highway funding dilemma. Ginger Goodin, senior research engineer and program manager at the Texas Transportation Institute, provided an educational presentation – “VMT Primer” – via telephone on the vehicle miles traveled tax.
General Vice President Woody Chambers and OOIDA Foundation Director of Operations Tom Weakley provided the report on the Foundation’s activities. The purpose of the Foundation is to fund and sponsor research concerning economic and safety issues.
O’Neill and OOIDA Administrative Assistant Angel Burnell reported on the Association’s Political Action Committee fund.
Scholarship Committee Chairman Bill Rode announced that the Scholarship Committee has selected this year’s winners. The OOIDA-Mary Johnston Scholarship Committee awarded $2,000 to the winner and four $1,000 scholarships to others. A runner-up was chosen should it be necessary to replace one of the winners.
Rode reported that at the board’s annual fundraiser for the scholarship fund, $1,315 was raised in a card tournament and pizza party in OOIDA’s cafeteria. Rode’s report that Shell again has provided a $10,000 sponsorship for the scholarship fund won a round of applause from the board. He said a member from Twisp, WA, had again donated $2,000 and wished to remain anonymous.
Rode said 83 applications for scholarships were received during 2009-2010.
“Those had to be narrowed down to six,” he told the board, “and that was one tough job.”
The winners will be announced in the July Land Line. Photos of the winners and the winning essay will be published in the August/September Land Line. Rode said the total amount of money spent on scholarships to date was $169,500.
Media Committee Chairman Bill Boyd gave the board a business report on OOIDA’s magazine, websites, Sirius XM radio show and public relations.
The OOIDA Board of Directors meets twice a year to conduct the Association’s business, to assess needs for upcoming projects, and to discuss and implement strategies for the organization’s target issues. The next meeting is scheduled for fall of 2010. LL