Weekly Legislative Update - February 10, 2020

Save the Date!
 
TIA would like you to save the date for our 2020 lobby day and international environmental summit. 

The lobby day will take place on May 6th with the international environmental summit to take place the following day on May 7th. 

Both events will take place in Washington, D.C. 

More details are RSVP instructions to follow. But for now, mark your calendar!

Transportation Reauthorization Update
 
On January 29, House Democrats released their infrastructure framework which provides $760 billion in infrastructure funding over five years (FY 2021-2025) including $319 billion for highway investments.

The framework is an overview of a large infrastructure package that includes funding for roads, transit, rail, aviation, broadband, wastewater, and drinking water. The framework touches on funding and financing infrastructure investments but doesn't offer a pay-for.

On January 28, House Republicans released their infrastructure principles for the surface transportation bill. 

The Republicans are hopeful that they can work with the Democrats to produce a bipartisan bill that can be signed by the President.
 
During the State of the Union President Trump called for Congress to pass the Senate reauthorization bill, S. 2302, signaling that, for now, a larger infrastructure package is off the table. 

It is promising that passing the transportation authorization is a priority for the President. This statement received rousing bipartisan support during his speech.
TIA will continue to be actively involved in transportation funding discussions. 

DRIVE-Safe Act Key Points
 
The country is facing a massive truck driver shortage that's increasing the costs of consumer goods and hurting the economy.
  • More than 70% of U.S. products are moved by trucks.
  • In 2018, the trucking industry was short roughly 60,800 drivers - up nearly 20% from 2017's figure of 50,700. If current trends hold, the American Trucking Association (ATA) says the shortage could rise to more than 160,000 by 2028. 
  • According to the ATA, to meet the U.S. demand, the trucking industry must hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers, or an average of nearly 110,000 per year, to replace retiring drivers and keep on pace with the growth in the economy.
  • The driver shortage is causing transportation and manufacturing costs to rise, as consumer-goods giants like Procter & Gamble face shortages of drivers for their plants.
The DRIVE-Safe Act (HR 1379, S 569) provides a pathway to high-paying jobs for young adults seeking a career path while making our roads safer.
  • A critical obstacle to attracting new drivers is that while virtually all states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver's license at age 18, they are prohibited from operating in interstate commerce until they are 21. That means an 18-year old cannot drive a truck from Arlington, Virginia into Washington D.C., yet could drive that same truck across Virginia, from Arlington to Virginia Beach to Bristol.
  • The trucking industry is a good paying career choice for America's emerging workforce.
  • Training programs like this are critical game changers for not only developing highly skilled blue-collar workforce but also creating pathways for blue-collar workers to advance to white-collar levels in their profession - without the need to incur college debt.
 
Safety is a critical component of the DRIVE-Safe Act.
  • Filling the driver shortage gap is a perfect opportunity to reinforce a culture of safety and provide an emerging workforce with the critical skills they need to safely operate a truck.
  • At its core, the DRIVE-Safe Act is a safety program. It requires training far and above current requirements to ensure drivers are safe and prepared.
  • In addition to completing the requirements of the FMCSA Entry Level Driver Training regulation and possessing a commercial driver's license, the program will require these drivers to:
        Complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them.
        All trucks used for training in the program must be equipped with safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, video event capture, and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or below.
 
The common-sense solution to the driver shortage is to expand the work pool, period.
  • Currently, the average age of an over-the-road driver is 46, while the average age of a new drivers being trained is 35, according to ATA.
  • ...increasing driver pay has not fixed the driver shortage, we need more.
        Truckers collected record pay increases in 2018 and that had little effect on the industry's shortage of drivers.
        Hundreds of trucking firms surveyed quarterly by the National Transportation Institute found that 85 percent do not link higher pay to attracting driver candidates.
 
Outdated regulations are preventing access to a stable, middle-class profession.
  • Adults, who are able to vote and enlist in the military, are arbitrarily restricted and delayed from entering the trucking profession.
  • The average truck driver earns $53,000 according to ATA, above the Bureau of Labor Statistics average for all U.S. workers at $51,960.
  • The trend continues when compared to other occupations: Construction Equipment Operators at $52,190, Roofers at $43,870, and Stonemasons at $44,370.
  • New entrants to the job market cannot take advantage of these earning opportunity upon graduation from high school, and must wait until they turn 21 or choose a different profession.
  • Back in 1937, limiting a young driver from manning an unfamiliar vehicle across this relatively new concept called highways might have made sense, but the extensive training and rigorous safety requirements in the DRIVE-Safe Act makes the interstate ban obsolete.
  • The 82-year old restriction is keeping qualified candidates from kick-starting their careers in the trucking industry-and preventing the industry from filling hundreds of thousands of open jobs.
TIA supports the DRIVE-Safe Act.