Senate commerce committee approves portion of highway bill

| 4/15/2005

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved a portion of the Senate’s version of the highway bill, S732, on April 14.

Among the provisions approved is the reauthorization of truck safety programs administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The legislation more than doubles state truck safety funding to $200 million annually through the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.

The bill also provides funds for improvements to CDL systems and programs and establishes a medical review board to recommend standards for the physical examinations of commercial drivers as well as a registry for qualified medical examiners.

In addition, the bill reauthorizes hazmat transportation programs through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The bill authorizes $144 million in funding for the programs through the 2009 fiscal year.

The bill would also require Mexican and Canadian commercial motor vehicle operators transporting hazmat in the United States to undergo background checks similar to those already given to U.S. licensed operators.

The bill is expected to go before the full Senate sometime before the end of May. The House approved a similar version of the bill in March.

– By Terry Scruton, senior writer