The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) today laid out the agenda it will pursue on Capitol Hill and discussed what it views as the challenges facing the trucking industry.
On the litigation front, ATA expects there will be a decision on whether or not to vacate the 2005 hours-of-service (HOS) rules made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the first quarter.
“We’ll try to address the potential outcomes,” said Tim Lynch, senior vp of federation relations and strategic planning. “[The court decision] will either be very good or not so good.”
Regarding a possible strategy to codify HOS if the Court vacates the rule, Lynch stated: “Frankly, I’m not sure if we’d be supportive [of codifying HOS]. I’m not sure if a statutory codification of the entire rule is in anybody’s best interest.”
On the political front, ATA is gearing up to further motor carrier interests during the reauthorization of the highway bill, due in 2008, and says it will work closely with the Congressional infrastructure commission to influence the national highway program.
ATA is also pushing to cut redundant background checks for port truckers and CDL holders seeking a hazmat endorsement. The group is also monitoring the trend among state governments to lease existing transportation infrastructure so that revenues from maintaining and improving highway infrastructure aren’t diverted.
As for key day-to-day trucking issues, ATA recognizes that driver hiring and retention is the number-one concern of trucking executives.
“It does seem like we’re categorizing our areas of angst,” said Gov. Bill Graves, ATA president & CEO. “There are issues that come and go but the driver shortage has become a constant drumbeat area of concern. Last year we devoted much more time and committing financial resources into the programs to make people aware of the opportunities in trucking.”
Additionally, ATA said it continues to be hopeful that the immigrant guest-worker proposal could be reformed to broaden the pool of available drivers, noting the 110th Congress could revisit this issue.
“Last year’s immigration bill was not one of the more shining moments of the 109th Congress,” said Lynch. “Hopefully [the 110th Congress will] take a fresh look at this.”
Graves acknowledged that driver pay, lifestyle and competition with industries such as construction were factors that the trucking industry continues to face.
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