By Sandi Soendker
Board members met last month with OOIDA’s staff and government affairs team from Washington, DC, to define issues, choose battles and strategize.
During the Sept. 29-Oct. 2 meeting, the board progressed through OOIDA election business, reports, tactics and discussions. Other events ranged from a long conference call with a key U.S. Congressional staffer to a personal visit from a powerful Congressional committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri.
Business, government affairs and more … President Jim Johnston and Interim Treasurer Bill Rode of Eagle, ID, tag-teamed the board with a combined business and financial report.
Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, Director of Government Affairs Rod Nofziger, and Director of Legislative Affairs Mike Joyce reported on activities of government issues and legislative actions that are critical to truckers. Discussion included environmental issues coming down the pike – specifically, a development that OOIDA will be focused on like a laser beam, and that’s government-mandated fuel mileage standards for heavy trucks.
The board heard an update from Johnston and Nofziger on an important broker reform bill introduced in June by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and supported by OOIDA. Nofziger explained that, if it does not pass in the next few months, the bill will need to be reintroduced after the first of the year. The bill aims to raise broker bonds from $10,000 to $100,000.
Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz reported on the Association’s involvement in the regulatory arena – at both the federal and state levels. Rajkovacz outlined the strategies and positions on the numerous regulations in the federal regulatory pipeline. Topics that commanded long discussion included out-of-service criteria, distracted driving, detention time, CSA 2010, and food and safety in transportation.
The subject of employee misclassification was also a topic. OOIDA’s position has always been that it supports independent contractors.
Another topic was the lack of air bags in most heavy trucks, contributing to trucker fatalities.
It was decided that the Association will move forward in a push for improved crashworthiness in heavy trucks.
Litigation … President Johnston advised the board on the Association’s litigation activities, including the schedules of briefs due in OOIDA’s legal challenge of an EOBR regulation by FMCSA. The regulation will mandate the use of the devices for motor carriers with a record of chronic non-compliance with hours-of-service regs.
“We are attacking it on all fronts, and we are the only organization that is fighting this,” said Johnston.
“Nothing supports a claim that an EOBR makes you safer. … The beneficiaries are the bigger carriers,” added Spencer.
Another highlight of Johnston’s litigation report was clearly OOIDA and member plaintiff Stephen K. House v. the Minnesota State Patrol. More on this case, including Johnston’s testimony, can be found on Page 20.
Johnston also updated the board on the recent appeal of the case the Association calls “Minnesota II.” If OOIDA wins favorable rulings in either or both of the Minnesota cases, Johnston said it could have “all kinds of implications regarding Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program funding.”
Next meeting … The board is tentatively scheduled to meet again in May 2010. The elected alternates will be seated at that meeting. LL