SPECIAL REPORT: Turnabout fair play as House kills funding for EOBRs

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 6/29/2012

Friday, June 29, 2012 – Even though the big highway bill finalized this week in Congress includes a requirement for electronic on-board recorders in all heavy trucks, the House of Representatives approved a separate action today to block federal funds from being used to implement the mandate.

In a noon press release, OOIDA thanked truckers and lawmakers for pushing back against the $2 billion Big Brother mandate.

The House approved the “Landry-Rahall amendment” to an annual spending bill that holds the checkbook for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Landry-Rahall amendment, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Landry, R-LA, and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-WV, prohibits the DOT, specifically the FMCSA, from advancing a regulation that mandates EOBRs, event data recorders and global positioning tracking of commercial and personal vehicles. Additional co-sponsors included Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA, Tom Graves, R-GA, Bill Huizenga, R-MI, Leonard Boswell, D-IA, and James Lankford, R-OK.

OOIDA issued numerous calls to action to members this week to light up the phones and help squash the EOBR mandate.

“We’d like to thank the sponsors and co-sponsors for their bipartisan opposition to the mandate,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said Friday, June 29. “We commend them for recognizing the negative consequences of mandating EOBRs and for their hard work in stepping up to correct the situation.”

“We also thank our members for their tremendous support in helping get this amendment passed,” Spencer said.

Rahall said the EOBR mandate originated in the Senate, and that House lawmakers did not have much say in the final language of that provision. Noting that an EOBR mandate would cost small-business truckers billions of dollars, Rahall said that was the biggest reason he and Landry attached their amendment to the spending bill.

According to the White House in a report last year, a government mandate would cost the trucking industry $2 billion, making it one of the top seven most expensive regulations undertaken by the administration.

OOIDA and its members see no reason for costly government surveillance that does not improve safety or compliance with hours of service. In addition, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down the FMCSA’s initial rulemaking on recorders because the agency failed to deal with the fact that EOBRs could be used to harass drivers.

Passing the Landry-Rahall amendment was an important first step in halting a government mandate for EOBRs. The bill it is attached to still has hurdles before it can become law.

The Senate has yet to take up annual spending bills including the DOT spending bill approved by the House. Insiders say the Senate may not take up spending bills until after the federal elections in the fall.

In a press release, the American Trucking Associations called out Landry (but did not mention Rahall) for moving to strip funding from the EOBR mandate. The ATA has pushed EOBRs, speed limiters and other technologies for years in an attempt to stifle small-business competitors of some of the largest motor carriers.

“Though opponents of honest, fair and efficient enforcement of important safety rules have used this back door to thwart the will of Congress, we fully expect that the language of the conference report – agreed to by House and Senate leaders of both parties – will be the final word on the use of electronic logs and that DOT will quickly move to require this important safety technology on all trucks,” ATA President Bill Graves said in the statement.


Editor's note: This article has been updated to include reaction from the American Trucking Associations to the Landry-Rahall amendment passage.

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