Friday, September 4, 2015

Congress still has a highway bill to consider

Midsummer saw a flurry of activity and congressional debates about transportation policy and funding. Transportation remains a priority as House and Senate lawmakers return to Capitol Hill after Labor Day weekend.

OOIDA remains active to ensure the interests of small-business truckers are protected in any emerging legislation.

Before the August recess, the U.S. Senate approved a six-year bill – funded for the first three years only – but the House chose a different route and pushed through a short-term extension of current programs. The Senate chose to pass the short-term extension at the 11th hour. That left the multiyear bill hanging in limbo as the House did not take it up.

With December not far away on the legislative calendar, the debate over long-term transportation funding is likely to heat up again.

The short-term extension wasn’t the worst outcome in this case, at least from a trucker perspective. While it did not solve the funding shortfall or do anything to change the current regulatory climate, it did have at least one advantage.

What it did was, it provided more time for lawmakers and stakeholders to read and comprehend the Senate’s multiyear bill, which sits at about 1,000 pages.

And, as OOIDA found, it contained some provisions that could do more harm than good to trucking’s small-businesses.

Those issues are spelled out on the Association’s website. They include an attempt to increase insurance requirements for motor carriers and an attempt to provide states more leeway to toll interstate highways.

One good thing happening in the Senate bill is that it calls for some reforms to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, something OOIDA has been fighting for in recent years. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

Check in at and send a note to federal lawmakers urging them to protect small-business truckers in the next highway bill.

While you’re there, take a moment and sign the Association’s petition that opposes mandatory speed limiters.