Ohio bill would provide tax break to address ‘driver shortage’

August 12, 2020

Keith Goble

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A bill in the Ohio Senate would address a proclaimed “driver shortage” in the trucking industry.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee recently held the first hearing on a bill to aid motor carriers wanting to bring more drivers into the industry.

Specifically, HB222 would provide a tax credit to motor carriers for eligible training expenses for prospective drivers. The bill would cap the tax credit at $3 million annually with the amount allotted to a single employer set at $25,000.

An estimated $1.5 million would be needed to cover the tax credits.

The amount would come mostly from the state’s general fund. The local government fund and public library fund also would be tapped to cover costs.

Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus, R-Minerva, said the trucking industry transports more than two-thirds of all freight throughout the country. He added that trucking companies are having a difficult time attracting drivers.

“This legislation aims to increase training opportunities for new truck drivers in order to address the industry’s growing driver shortage,” Stoltzfus told the committee.

Qualifying taxpayers would be allowed to begin claiming the tax credit in 2022.

Additionally, the commercial driver’s license skills test examination fee would be increased from $50 to $115. The increase is estimated to raise up to $700,000 annually.

Rep. Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland, added that the tax credits would help Ohio trucking companies to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

If approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, HB222 would advance to the chamber floor for a vote before it could head to the governor’s desk.

The House voted 91-1 early this year to approve the bill. Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, was the lone lawmaker to vote in opposition to the bill.

OOIDA opposition to bill addressing a ‘driver shortage’

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to the legislation intended to address a “nonexistent” driver shortage.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA manager of government affairs, has communicated to the bill sponsors there is no driver shortage in Ohio or any other state.

“Large motor carriers and those who represent them continue to perpetuate this myth,” Matousek previously wrote to lawmakers.

Matousek added that the real issue in trucking is driver turnover due to low wages and poor working conditions.

“Without addressing driver wages and working conditions, a majority of drivers hired using this tax credit will leave the industry in less than a year.”

He acknowledges that not every motor carrier is guilty of mistreatment of drivers.

“In fact, plenty of carriers treat their drivers right and their retention rates reflect that.”

More Land Line coverage of news from Ohio is available.

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.