Highway bill amendments to be considered at markup hearing

June 8, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will conduct a markup hearing for its five-year, $547 billion highway bill at 10 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday, June 9.

The highway bill, known as the Invest in America Act or HR3684, was unveiled last week and provided some good and bad news for truckers.

On the good side, the Invest in America Act would provide $1 billion over five years for a grant program to address the shortage of truck parking. No more than 10% of the funds can be used for informational signs letting truckers know where parking is or isn’t available, and none of the projects can charge for truck parking.

However, there also are plenty of provisions in HR3684 that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association staunchly oppose.

Among those are measures to:

  • Increase minimum insurance requirements on motor carriers from $750,000 to $2 million.
  • Initiate a rulemaking for sleep apnea screenings.
  • Require FMCSA to review its changes to the hours-of-service rules established in 2020 and to create specific limits on the use of personal conveyance.
  • Require new heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with automatic emergency braking.
  • Research and consider the feasibility of installing side underride guards.
  • Return CSA scores to public view.
  • Create new authority for congestion pricing.

Markup hearing

The more than 1,200-page Invest in America Act would include $343 billion for roads, bridges and safety; $109 billion for transit; and $95 billion for passenger freight and rail. A fact sheet about the bill can be found here, and a section-by-section outline of the bill can be found here.

The markup hearing will be an opportunity for lawmakers to attempt to strike some of the provisions in the bill, as well as to add amendments.

Amendment to remove insurance hike

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., who also has been an advocate in addressing the truck parking crisis with the introduction of the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, will be offering an amendment to strip the minimum insurance increase on motor carriers from the highway bill.

OOIDA is supportive of Bost’s amendment and is encouraging its more than 150,000 members to call lawmakers on the House T&I Committee and tell them to vote yes to strike Section 4408 of the bill.

“Tell them a vote for the Bost amendment will support not only truckers, but farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, builders and anyone else who relies on trucking,” OOIDA wrote on its Facebook page. “Specifically, we need truckers to call the Democrats listed below to let them know they will have a choice: line the pockets of trial lawyers or stand up for the hard working men and women who make their living behind the wheel.”

The Association is not alone in its fight against a 167% increase to the minimum liability insurance for motor carriers. The Transportation Construction Coalition announced in April that it opposed an increase, and OOIDA is leading a group of more than 60 organizations in the trucking, agriculture, materials, manufacturing and towing industries to fight any potential increases.

Amendment to add DRIVE-Safe Act

As of Tuesday afternoon, the House T&I website also indicated that Rep. Troy Balderson, R-Ohio, would be offering an amendment to add the DRIVE-Safe Act to the bill. The amendment would set the stage for under-21 drivers to begin operating in long-haul trucking.

OOIDA opposes the DRIVE-Safe Act and the amendment.

Several other amendments also are expected to be introduced Wednesday. LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.