Efforts to Exempt Lease Owner-Operators From Bill Threatening to Wipe Out I/Cs Fail

Washington D.C. – Amendments that would have effectively exempted lease owner-operators from legislation trucking groups warn will destroy the industry’s independent contractor model failed in committee today.

This week the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2021.




 

On Monday, the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on the much-discussed bill viewed by many trucking stakeholders as a real threat to dismantle the industry’s lease owner-operator model.

Specifically, the PRO Act includes language similar to California’s controversial Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which imposes an “ABC test” to determine the status of an independent contractor.

At issue, just as in AB5, is the so-called “B prong,” which classifies a worker as an “employee” of the company unless that worker performs a service “outside the usual course of the business of the employer.”

As Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported last week, trucking stakeholders were hoping to get a carve out exempting the industry, and particularly lease owner-operators, from the ABC test.




 

In response to the concerns from myriad of industries, House Republicans mounted an effort to strip all or part of the ABC test from inclusion in the bill.

An amendment offered by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) called for entirely eliminating the ABC test from the legislation.

Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA) offered an amendment that would have removed the so-called B prong.

House Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee voted down both amendments today.

 

Multiple other Republican-backed amendments to carve out exemptions for professions such as writers, artists, musicians, health care professionals, direct salespersons, commercial fishermen, appraisers, forestry workers, cosmetologists, radio promoters, publicists and many more were also “disposed of” in committee.

Meanwhile, a group of House Democrats led by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) introduced an amendment to require the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to specifically study the impact of the ABC test after it is enacted.


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The GAO would be required to, within one-and-a-half years from the date of enactment, provide a report to Congress and the President outlining the affects the ABC test is having on workers and businesses across different sectors.

The President would then have 60 days to make recommendations on how to improve the law and Congress could then “consider whether to accept, reject, or modify any recommendations received from the President.”




 

This amendment was approved for consideration in the bill before final passage.

In all, more than 70 amendments were offered and fewer than 20 will be further debated.

A top aide to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told TNN on Monday that Democrats are “still working out the timing” of when the PRO Act will come to the House floor for a full vote.

However, it is expected to happen this week.

TransportationNation.com will continue to follow it closely.

 


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