OOIDA opposes Ohio CDL training bills meant to ‘churn out’ new drivers

January 19, 2018

Keith Goble

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Efforts remain active at the Ohio statehouse to benefit motor carriers wanting to bring more drivers into the trucking industry.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to the legislation.

The House Finance Committee previously voted by unanimous consent to forward a bill that would create a commercial truck driver student aid program for eligible students enrolled at a certified CDL school or career college.

Sponsored by Reps. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, and Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, HB154 would provide financial aid via a grant or loan. The state would adopt conditional rules for loans received by the program and requirements for certification of CDL schools.

A total of $5 million would be appropriated to support the student aid program.

The sponsors have said the legislation is part of a package of bills “aimed at increasing the amount of truck drivers in the industry, which has decreased in recent years.”

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of government affairs, has communicated to bill sponsors the Association’s concerns about the measure.

“While some motor carriers might need additional drivers, it is primarily because they have a driver turnover issue – not a driver shortage,” Matousek said.

He noted that driver turnover can easily reach 100 percent at many carriers annually.

“This is a reflection of non-competitive pay and poor working conditions – again not a driver shortage.”

Matousek said the bill actually provides a taxpayer subsidy to “churn out new drivers.”

OOIDA is not opposed to efforts that address potential barriers to entry, but the real issue is driver retention.

“HB154 ignores that completely while simultaneously reducing safety,” he said. “We need more qualified drivers, not simply more drivers.”

The bill awaits further consideration in the House.

Capping driver ed tax credits
Another piece of legislation in the package would provide a tax credit to motor carriers for eligible training expenses for prospective drivers.

SB114 would cap the tax credit at $3 million annually with the amount allotted to a single employer set at $50,000.

“In short, it is a taxpayer subsidy for large motor carriers,” Matousek said.

“SB114 exacerbates the economic dysfunction that continues to harm small-business truckers and professional truck drivers.”

He added that contrary to what others might claim there is chronic overcapacity in trucking and too many drivers.

In reference to the perceived driver shortage, Matousek said the turnover is a reflection of noncompetitive pay and poor working conditions, both of which are issues that many carriers simply refuse to address.

“Churning out new drivers drives down freight rates – in many cases below market value – and removes any incentive to retain more qualified drivers.”

The Association believes while there are many variables, more experienced drivers equates to safer drivers and safer highways.

The bill is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The House version, HB155, is in the House Ways and Means Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Ohio, click here.

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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.