OOIDA speaks out on THUD bill

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 6/3/2019

In a letter to the leaders of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association offered its opinion regarding the Fiscal Year 2020 THUD Appropriations Act.

On May 23, the House Appropriations Committee approved to move THUD’s appropriations bill to the full committee during a markup meeting. Many of the bill’s provisions were related to the trucking industry, including provisions regarding 30-minute rest break protection; California’s meal and rest break laws; an ELD exemption for livestock haulers; the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program; and underride guard inspections.

OOIDA sent a letter on Monday, June 3, to Subcommittee Chairman David Price and ranking member Mario Diaz-Balart, providing the lawmakers its input on each of the provisions.

First, the Association applauded the provision that would ban the use of funds to review and issue a decision on any petition to pre-empt state meal and rest break laws that may differ from federal regulations. In December, FMCSA granted a petition from the American Trucking Associations to pre-empt California’s meal and rest break rules.

“We believe FMCSA erred in granting a 2018 ATA petition to pre-empt California rules, especially considering the agency denied a similar petition 10 years prior,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer. “Congress has also repeatedly rejected ATA’s efforts to legislatively impose a similar federal pre-emption. Section 133 would block FMCSA from pre-empting meal and rest break rules, thus taking a necessary step to ensure that the drivers are compensated for their time.”

OOIDA also is opposed to some of the provisions. The bill states that no funds can be used to enforce a rule that eliminates the 30-minute rest break within the federal regulations. The Association has been hopeful the FMCSA’s upcoming hours-of-service proposal would eliminate the mandatory 30-minute rest break.

“Truckers have long identified this rule as an overly burdensome requirement that does nothing to improve highway safety,” OOIDA wrote. “In fact, OOIDA recently petitioned FMCSA to remove the provision entirely when modernizing hours-of-service standards. If the current standard is not eliminated in the agency’s imminent notice of proposed rulemaking on hours of service, truckers hope the rule will at the very least be modified to provide greater flexibility to drivers, which is the best approach to improve highway safety.”

Another provision would allow the FMCSA to publish information regarding analysis of violations developed under CSA.

“We have serious concerns,” OOIDA wrote. “Despite recent positive developments, the CSA program remains critically flawed and categorically unfair to truckers. Publicly posting an analysis of violations developed under CSA while the system is still being improved is extremely problematic. Rather than creating arbitrary timeframes for the availability of the data, Congress should focus its efforts on ensuring FMCSA is establishing a program that is fair, reliable, and actually based on safety.”

 

 

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