OOIDA focuses on 2017

By Todd Spencer, OOIDA Executive Vice President

Last year was an interesting year to say the least, and as we roll into 2017 our proactive membership deserves thanks for what they do. It certainly makes the jobs of our government affairs team in D.C. much easier.

The director of that team, Laura O’Neill-Kaumo, has provided a summation of 2016’s trucking-specific issues in Washington, D.C., and critical states across the country. Each one of these successes is a result of your influence and hard work. Here are some noteworthy items from our 2016 wrap-up and some of what’s ahead for 2017.

For OOIDA and truckers, the biggest legislative news of 2016 was that Congress wrapped up its session with the preservation of the 34-hour restart. For the time being, it made no move to rush a speed limiter mandate through.

The House language preserving the 34-hour restart made it into the Continuing Resolution – the year-end spending bill. The legislative drafting error that caused us so much anxiety this year has been fixed, and we can continue to operate under the status quo. Members of Congress certainly heard from OOIDA’s membership on this matter. Thumbs up on inclusion of the House language rather than a cumbersome weekly cap proposed by the Senate.

Congress says it best sometimes when they say nothing at all. As you may recall, a late-night Senate amendment was tacked onto a spending bill by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., earlier in 2016. OOIDA went to the House of Representatives and made as much noise as humanly possible. In short, the Continuing Resolution does not contain a provision that compels the DOT to release a final rule on speed limiters within six months.

Other items of note

The speed limiter comment period closed on Dec.7, 2016, with more than 6,700 comments filed to the dockets. Thank you to those who voiced your concerns. In its 41 pages of comments, OOIDA cites several examples from members and other truckers who currently drive speed-limited vehicles of the challenges they face. OOIDA asks the agencies “to recognize these issues and withdraw the rulemaking proceeding.”

About credentialing redundancy and Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) – OOIDA has been working on this issue for a long time. Finally, during the past year, we have enjoyed great progress. A special thanks to Collin Long of our D.C. office and OOIDA’s Director of Security Operations Doug Morris, who have continued the push for TWIC to be the “one credential” required for screening. These two made great strides in 2016 by meeting with government agencies and congressional members. As a result, we were able to announce that the TWIC card is now recognized at all military facilities and alleviates a driver from acquiring a common access card (CAC).

Also, TWIC has gone down in pricing from $129.50 two years ago to $125.25. (As you know, rarely does a fee go down in any government program.) They’ve also reduced the fee to $105.25 for those with a valid hazmat endorsement, and a replacement card for all involved is now $60. We still have far to go, but we are moving in the right direction. The goal is one big check acceptable everywhere and by all agencies.

President Trump has commented frequently that he intends to address our nation’s highways within the first 100 days of his administration. There were no significant changes to the Congressional Committees of jurisdictions so we suspect an infrastructure bill will begin percolating in the House. How Congress pays for the administration’s desired outcomes will be critical. Based on who we are seeing on the transition teams, the issues of privatization and tolling will be discussed at the table.

Speed limiters are a bipartisan issue that truckers feel strongly about, and we anticipate hearings and a lot of chatter on this.

The driver training standards are now a final rule and heading toward implementation by 2020. As you know, OOIDA will be involved. You can read more in this issue.

What about tax reform? It could be coming this year and should provide a legislative vehicle for lots of riders, possibly some pertaining to trucking. There could be good opportunities, but at the same time this needs to be watched closely.

As you know, truck parking is a huge concern for OOIDA members. MAP-21 is one of the more recent transportation authorization, and truck parking activities are authorized under MAP-21 as eligible activities for various funding programs. Additionally, MAP-21 required Jason’s Law, which includes a survey of state capability to provide truck parking, an assessment of truck volumes in each state, and the development of a system of metrics to evaluate parking. With funding now available through MAP-21 and Jason’s Law, states need to be encouraged to update their state freight plans to support truck parking solutions. LL