Sen. Cruz questions FMCSA administrator nominee on ELDs

October 31, 2017

Jami Jones


Ray Martinez took his seat in front of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Tuesday as part of the confirmation process to confirm him as administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Martinez was one of four nominees to positions within Department of Transportation related agencies to be questioned by committee members.

The nominee pledged transparency and the need to remain a data driven agency focused on high risk carriers and drivers throughout most of his testimony.

One senator in particular quizzed Martinez on the hottest topic in trucking right now. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, specifically asked about the upcoming electronic logging mandate.

Cruz said in opening his line of questioning for Martinez that one of Cruz’s top priorities is regulatory reform. He went on to detail the expense of the upcoming mandate, highlighting that during its passage under the Obama administration the rule was estimated to cost $2 billion to implement.

“You won’t be surprised to know that many industries involved in trucking have contacted my office expressing concerns about the implementation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s electronic logging device,” Cruz said. “I have in my possession a letter than President Obama sent to (then-Speaker of the House) John Boehner in Aug. 30, 2011, which confirms the mandate is estimated to cost $2 billion.

“In light of the costs, do you believe the FMCSA should delay the implementation of the ELD mandate prior to Dec. 18, 2017?” Cruz asked Martinez.

“Senator, I believe regulatory reform should be an on-going process. My understanding in regard to ELDs is that they are now legally required and that there is a December deadline for implementation with a phase in.

“If confirmed, I would look forward to working with industry and all stakeholders – safety, advocates and particularly impacted sectors of commerce. I have heard this rule could cause serious hardship to some small, independent truck drivers, particularly those working in the agricultural sector, so I would want to meet with those involved in those areas who are opposed to the rule to learn more about their concerns.

“The goal is not to cripple commerce. The goal is to make our roadways safer.”

He ended his remarks to Cruz by stating he would first “abide by the law” but to have an open door policy to work with all affected sectors of the trucking industry.

Cruz said he would look forward to working with Martinez to mitigate the costs to small businesses and agriculture.

Overall Martinez’s confirmation hearing went smoothly. The committee will vote on the nominees later on whether to send the nominations to the full Senate for confirmation.

He was nominated in late September, and his nomination details a largely metropolitan and transportation planning resume.

Currently, Martinez serves as the chairman and chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and a member of the New Jersey State Planning Commission. He manages a state agency with more than $1 billion in annual revenue and an operating budget of about $330 million.

Martinez brings with him a lot of motor vehicle administration experience, having served 2000-05 as commissioner for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. During this time, Martinez also was chairman of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, administering federal funding for state and local highway safety projects. While commissioner, Martinez was also a member of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and served as president of its Region I Board and as a member of its International Board in 2005.

Before his nomination by Gov. Chris Christie to lead the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, Martinez was most recently the deputy U.S. chief of protocol and diplomatic affairs for the U.S. Department of State and the White House. He was responsible for managing five operational divisions: diplomatic affairs, foreign visits, ceremonial events, Blair House and administration.

Martinez received his bachelor of arts degree from Long Island University/C.W. Post College, in Brookville, N.Y., and is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law. He lives in Monmouth County, N.J.