Tuesday, August 13, 2013

OOIDA’s D.C. office: small staff, big job

I recently got a good letter from OOIDA Life Member Steve Bixler, an owner-operator from Valley View, Penn. I’ve come to know Steve as we both serve on the OOIDA Board of Directors. His brain is always at work to make trucking a better place to work, and that’s clearly where his mind was when he banged out these thoughts. Here’s Steve on having a voice in Washington, D.C.

I know we have all heard the phrase: “What does OOIDA do for me?”

In addition to providing support and services to every member, OOIDA also has a team in Washington, D.C. Our Washington staff continues to prove why they are there – to not only keep Washington aware of us, but also to keep us aware of them. Through the staff’s hard work and diligence, we get the jump on what is being voted on.

This gives us the opportunity to contact our lawmakers and discuss these issues before the vote happens. With the fall break happening and the Congressmen back home, we need to push not only each other, but all of our 150,000 members to use this break to make our collective voices heard by those that make the rules we have to follow. Our U.S. lawmakers will be home the whole month of August and head back to work in D.C. the first week of September.

Just take the insurance issue. In case you haven’t heard, U.S. Rep. Matthew Cartwright has introduced a bill to up the truck insurance minimum requirements from $750,000 to $4.42 million. Yes, I said “MILLION.” Cartwright is a U.S. Member of Congress from my home state.

This is obviously being pushed by people who expect to profit from it. I recently read an article stating that less than 1 percent of all truck accidents reach the 1 million dollar mark in damages. So why do we need $4 million in coverage? So the lawyers can ask for more in settlements! For the victims? I think not! For themselves? Absolutely.

The Trucking Alliance – which is managed by Arkansas Trucking Association’s Lane Kidd and made up of large carriers like J.B. Hunt, Knight, Schneider and others – are supporting this bill. Why? Because they are mostly self-insured, so this costs them nothing, while small carriers will be hit in the wallet once more. Enough hits, we go under, leaving them to monopolize the market. Watch the rates go up then!

Obviously, we need to vigorously fight this one. This is just one of many new proposals being talked about that concern truckers. With the help of the D.C. Staff, we will be notified in time to fight them before they get voted on.

Ryan and Ben, keep up the good work in Washington. Everyone else, keep on truckin’ and keep on fightin’.