OOIDA: Next few weeks critical for highway bill

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 8/5/2015

OOIDA is urging its members and truckers everywhere to contact lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and tell them to protect America’s trucking professionals in a multiyear highway bill that has already passed in the Senate.

“The next several weeks are critical; Congress needs your input immediately,” OOIDA states in a Call to Action emailed to Association members this week. Truckers can send correspondence directly to their House lawmakers by visiting FightingForTruckers.com, clicking on the “Calls to Action” tab, and following the highway bill prompt.

Numerous issues are at stake in the legislation, HR22, such as insurance requirements for motor carriers, proposed reforms to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and a proposal that would allow states to toll interstate highways. The Senate passed HR22 on July 30.

“With the Senate having passed their version of a highway bill, the House is likely to take action soon after Labor Day on advancing their own version of reauthorization legislation,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley told Land Line Magazine.

“The month of August, when lawmakers are home and when staffers back in D.C. are working on finalizing that proposal, is a key time for truckers to weigh in and call on the House to put together the strongest highway bill possible – one that protects their interests.”

Truckers using the FightingForTruckers.com portal to contact their lawmakers will see an attached letter that spells out the issues the Association is fighting for on their behalf.

“Small-business truckers are depending on the House of Representatives to draft a highway bill that takes into consideration the burdens placed on us as small-business owners, while recognizing our commitment to highway safety and the role we play in the success of the U.S. economy,” the attached letter says. “We hope you will stand with us.”

The letter urges the House to stop FMCSA from moving forward with a rulemaking that would increase the insurance costs and requirements for motor carriers. The current requirements provide adequate coverage in more than 99 percent of crashes involving trucks.

The letter commends lawmakers for pursuing reforms to the FMCSA rulemaking process and calls for transparency and accountability for any rulemakings the agency pursues.

Last but not least, the letter adamantly opposes tolls on federally funded highways, something being considered in the Senate version of the highway bill.

“Tolls are costly for all motorists but especially for truckers,” the letter states. “Truckers already pay disproportionately more to use highways via federal and state fuel taxes, tire taxes, heavy vehicle use taxes, federal excise taxes on new equipment, and other user fees. Tolls would simply serve as another tax, are costly to administer, and are not completely dedicated to road use.”

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