ELD-FREE: New Legislation To Exempt Small Carriers, Ag Haulers From ELDs Coming “Soon”
Washington, D.C. – Legislation that would exempt small carriers and agricultural haulers from the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate will soon be reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) has confirmed Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) plans to reintroduce H.R. 5948 and H.R. 5949 “soon” according to a source with direct knowledge of the congressman’s intentions. “I have every reason to believe we will be reintroducing both bills,” the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told TNN. “We are working out the details and meeting with the White House to push for support.”
H.R. 5948 aims to allow carriers with 10 trucks or fewer the option to record drivers hours-of-service with a “paper record of duty status form” instead of an ELD. Small carriers could still use ELDs should they choose to, but it would no longer be required.
H.R. 5949 would exempt those hauling agricultural products (as defined in section 207 of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1626)) from the ELD mandate. Those transporting farm supplies for agricultural purposes (as defined in section 395.2 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations) would also be exempted.
Rep. Peterson, along with Reps. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) and Steve King (R-IA), introduced the “Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act” (H.R. 5948) and “Agricultural Business Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act” (H.R. 5949) once before in May of 2018. It is unclear at this time if Reps. Gianforte and King plan to join in the new effort.
What Happened Last Time?
Both bills were referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit where neither piece of legislation won enough support to make it out of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee for a vote among all U.S. House members.
At that time TNN reported H.R. 5948 and 5949 enjoyed majority support among the Republican-led House Freedom Caucus. However, the bills did not gain enough co-sponsors and support needed in order to advance in the legislative process.
Even if they had, it was unlikely they would have passed the House. Sources confirmed to TNN that Former Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI) did not support the legislation.
Further, TNN also reported at that time, sources indicated Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was also unlikely to support the legislation. However, opponents of the ELD mandate are hoping this time around will yield a different outcome.
Could This Time Around Be Different?
The dynamic in Congress has shifted. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is now the Speaker of the House and Democrats could seek to advance this legislation in hopes of winning back some of the middle class voters they lost to President Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Truckers turned out big for President Trump in 2016. Given that the overwhelming majority of trucking companies are 10 or fewer truck operations, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats in the House could possibly regain a significant portion of those voters should they get onboard with these reforms.
Republicans, likewise, will want to keep the support of these voters. Supporting legislation to deliver regulatory relief to hundreds of thousands of small business truckers could help in that effort.
The test will be how many concerned truckers get involved and make their voices heard to their representatives. Also, will upcoming planned trucker demonstrations and protests gain enough traction to get the attention of lawmakers in Washington? Only time will tell.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to bring you the latest developments.
(featured image courtesy of J.J. Keller & Associates)
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