Government affairs dominates spring meeting

Congress wrapped up a two-week district work period on the Easter holiday, providing a good opportunity for OOIDA’s D.C. staff to update the board on what has been going on in Congress and at the DOT since the beginning of the year. The report included an overview of the 114th Congress so far and how the dynamics of the committees will affect OOIDA’s priorities.

Ryan Bowley and Ben Siegrist of OOIDA’s D.C. government affairs staff reported a significant increase of involvement by Association members regarding prioritized issues. Bowley said more than 6,400 OOIDA member emails were sent to Congress urging FMCSA reform, which is now on the congressional agenda. In addition, 1,500 comments were submitted by truckers opposing insurance increases. Bowley said 10,000-plus emails were sent by OOIDA members since Oct. 1, 2014, via fightingfortruckers.com.

There are a number of legislative target issues. These include support for a new highway bill and FMCSA reform (including general agency reform, hours-of-service and CSA reform) as well as opposition to insurance increases, hair-based drug testing, under-21 CDLs, truck size and weight increases and cross-border trucking. As always, highway funding and tolling proposals stay high on the Association’s agenda.

On the regulatory side, OOIDA continues to be engaged on issues members are facing with the medical examiners’ registry, the DOT’s medical standards and sleep apnea. Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth reported that the “D.O.T. Doc” on the OOIDA.com website is seeing solid traffic and helping members go to CMEs who give them a fair exam.

Grenerth told the board that staff continues to be heavily involved with the negotiated rulemaking committee on the topic of entry-level driver training. Concerns include:

1. Is the agency’s timeline too aggressive?

2. Will large carriers push for a “limited” curriculum?

3. Will “safety groups” be too unrealistic and demanding?

4. How will owner-operators continue to be able to train family members, etc.?

5. Will enough benefits be found to justify the cost of a meaningful rule?

Grenerth said electronic logs and speed limiters are moving through the rulemaking process. For the latest on speed limiters, see Senior Editor Dave Tanner’s article in this issue.

On electronic logging devices, Grenerth said the DOT is showing that a final rule will be issued by Sept. 30, 2015. MAP-21 requires a two-year phase-in period before the ELD mandate would go into effect.

Johnston said the “main stage for the ELD issue will continue to be the court system.” LL