Broker reform bill not perfect, but will make major progress

By Jim Johnston
OOIDA President


OOIDA has worked long and hard with Transportation Intermediaries Association – the brokers’ professional organization – to come up with what we wanted in a broker reform bill that everybody could get behind. The last thing lawmakers want is to work with competing organizations that have not first resolved disputes and come to the table committed to working together to produce solutions.

We had to set aside a lot of prejudice between our two groups, but without compromise between truckers and brokers, it was clear broker reform was going nowhere.

U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe, R-ME, and Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, appreciated the common ground we were able to establish with TIA and worked with us as they developed their broker reform bill – Senate Bill 3483.

The vast majority of comments we have received regarding S3483, the Senate broker reform bill, have been overwhelmingly positive. Most truckers and brokers recognize that it is a damned good bill. They recognize that if S3483 passes and gets signed into law, it will go a very long way toward protecting them from bad actors in the brokering world.

However, we have received a few comments from some folks who think the bill either goes too far or does not go far enough.

All of the “too far” comments have focused on the bill raising the broker surety bond from $10,000 (a level set more than 30 years ago) to $100,000. Just about all of those making the comments don’t understand that bonds are much like insurance policies. Brokers do not have to have $100,000 in cash to get the bond, but they do need to make an investment to ensure that they have the appropriate level of coverage to protect the people they are doing business with.

The “not far enough” comments have focused on issues like fuel surcharges and transaction transparency. Although OOIDA has long-standing positions on those matters and has made efforts to address them over the years, the fact is that S3483 represents a tremendous opportunity to rein in bad actors and to put truckers on much more solid footing when they are dealing with brokers and other transportation intermediaries.  The bill would do several things to ensure that government agencies and private sector entities are willing and able to follow through with the oversight efforts and enforcement actions they should already be doing to keep crooks from brokering freight.

You may not think S3483 is perfect, but the reality is we have to work within the existing government and political structures to improve laws and regulations. Politics is the art of the possible. And all factors considered, this bill is the best possible opportunity to reform freight brokers we have ever had. 

In this case, please do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Support S3483 and tell your elected representatives in the U.S. Senate they must do the same. LL