Activity at the Ohio statehouse has drawn the attention of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
A House bill introduced on Wednesday, June 21, seeks to figure out how to reduce the cost of insuring young commercial drivers. Sponsored by Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, the bill calls for a study and to report recommendations to reduce insurance premiums for truck drivers 18 to 25 years old.
The bill, HB284, would appoint 13 people to the study committee representing state government, the state’s insurance and trucking industries, and the Teamsters. The group would be responsible for submitting a report to state lawmakers by Oct. 1, 2017.
OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Mike Matousek has communicated to the bill sponsor the Association’s interest in being included in the process.
Matousek points out the Association has nearly 7,000 members residing in Ohio and thousands more operating on the state’s roadways each day. OOIDA also offers truck insurance to members.
“While we have concerns with the issue HB284 seeks to address, we are not opposed to the bill,” Matousek said. Rather, the Association is asking for a change made to the bill to include one study committee member appointed by OOIDA.
He points out the bill would create a study committee to make recommendations about insurance premiums among young drivers “yet, the proposed committee is not comprised of anyone with actual truck driving experience. This is a role that we are more than qualified to fulfill.”
Antani’s bill is not the only piece of legislation in Columbus to draw OOIDA’s attention.
Multiple efforts would benefit motor carriers wanting to bring more drivers into the trucking industry.
OOIDA is opposed to both pieces of legislation.
The first bill would create a commercial truck driver student aid program for eligible students enrolled at a certified CDL school or career college.
Financial aid would come via a grant or loan. The state would adopt conditional rules for loans received by the program and requirements for certification of CDL schools.
A total of $5 million would be appropriated to support the student aid program.
Reps. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, and Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, say the legislation is part of a package of bills “aimed at increasing the amount of truck drivers in the industry, which has decreased in recent years.”
Matousek said while some motor carriers might need additional drivers, it is primarily because they have a driver turnover issue – not a driver shortage. He adds that driver turnover can easily reach 100 percent at many carriers annually.
“This is a reflection of non-competitive pay and poor working conditions – again not a driver shortage.”
The bill is in the House Rules and Reference Committee.
Another piece of legislation in the package would provide a tax credit to motor carriers for eligible training expenses for prospective drivers.
Sponsored by Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, SB114 would cap the tax credit at $3 million annually with the amount allotted to a single employer set at $50,000.
“In short, it is a taxpayer subsidy for large motor carriers,” Matousek said.
“SB114 exacerbates the economic dysfunction that continues to harm small-business truckers and professional truck drivers.”
He adds that contrary to what others might claim, there is chronic overcapacity in trucking and too many drivers.
In reference to the perceived driver shortage, Matousek says the turnover is a reflection of non-competitive pay and poor working conditions, both of which are issues that many carriers simply refuse to address.
“Churning out new drivers drives down freight rates – in many cases below market value – and removes any incentive to retain more qualified drivers.”
The Association believes while there are many variables, more experienced drivers equates to safer drivers and safer highways.
“OOIDA is not opposed to efforts that address potential barriers to entry, but the real issue is driver retention, and SB114 ignores that completely,” Matousek said.
The bill is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The House version, HB155, is in the House Ways and Means Committee
To view other legislative activities of interest for Ohio, click here.
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