After Congress declined an informal request by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials to formalize hours-of-service regs through legislation, the agency has turned back to the regulatory rulemaking process.
With the clock ticking down to the Sept. 30 expiration of the current rules, the new proposed regulations - which have not been disclosed publicly - were submitted by FMCSA to the White House Office of Management and Budget July 28.
Before the proposed HOS regulations can become official, the OMB must review the new proposed regs before they can be submitted as a final rule to the Federal Register - effectively becoming the regulations truckers will live with.
This process usually takes about 30 days - putting it at right around the end of August when the regs would be released by OMB for a final rule - but OOIDA Lobbyist Rod Nofziger said the OMB had already agreed earlier this year to hurry things along for the HOS proposal.
Nofziger said there's been an unofficial target date of Aug. 22 being kicked around on Capitol Hill for the rules to hit the Federal Register.
The rulemaking re-examines the April 2003 HOS rule in response to a July 16, 2004, decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that overturned the rule, specifically because of concerns about the regulations' impact on the health of drivers.
The April 2003 HOS rule remains in effect until no later than Sept. 30, 2005, thanks to the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2004.
- By Jami Jones, staff editor