OOIDA Warns $547B Highway Bill Will ‘Destroy’ Small Carriers, ATA Calls it ‘Solid Legislation’
Washington D.C. – Two of trucking’s largest and most influential associations are at odds over a newly introduced $547 billion highway funding bill which includes a long list of controversial trucking provisions.
On Friday, a group of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the five-year surface reauthorization bill dubbed the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act.”
The 1,249-page piece of legislation is filled with highly contentious measures which would have deep impacts on the trucking industry, but none more so than a provision which would increase the minimum amount of insurance required for commercial motor vehicles (CMV) from $750,000 to $2 million.
Democrats backed by trial lawyers and truck safety advocates have worked for years to increase the minimum insurance requirement and now have a much clearer legislative path to accomplishing their goal.
Within minutes of the INVEST in America Act being introduced, the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) blasted the bill calling the proposed insurance hike a “poison pill.”
“Everyone knows this increase will do absolutely NOTHING to improve safety on our highways and will destroy small trucking businesses,” said Todd Spencer, president and CEO of OOIDA. “What good is a highway bill when it does more to support the unbridled greed of trial lawyers than truckers?”
Further, Spencer, who leads the largest association of independent truckers in North America, asserted the policy would be “catastrophic” and “nothing short of disastrous for many small motor carriers and owner-operators.”
However, the tone was quite different from the largest and most powerful trucking group, the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
In a statement, Chris Spear, president and CEO of ATA, praised the sponsors of the bill and called it a “solid piece of legislation.”
“The INVEST in America Act is a solid piece of legislation that authorizes a transformative increase in funding for roads and bridges, creating a strong baseline of new investment that aligns with the growing needs of our nation’s aging infrastructure,” Spear said. “ATA supports this bill and will continue working to improve and advance it into law.”
Spear did not directly address the proposed insurance hike provision.
The politics within ATA surrounding this issue have been tricky for quite some time as large carrier members — paying the most yearly dues — have long favored an increase, while many smaller carriers have opposed it.
Until now, ATA’s on-the-record position has been to oppose an “arbitrary increase” in the insurance minimum but stopped short of defining an amount the group would consider arbitrary.
While the INVEST in America Act also includes additional controversial provisions regarding automatic emergency braking, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, congestion pricing, use of data collected from electronic logging devices, side underride guards, and obstructive sleep apnea testing, there is one measure the two trucking groups agree on.
The bill calls for $1 billion to be set aside to address the truck parking shortage crisis.
“For years, we have been pushing the federal government to take the lead in addressing the number one concern for truckers – the lack of truck parking,” Spencer commented. “We’re pleased [House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee] Chairman [Peter] DeFazio’s proposal includes $1 billion to expand capacity. We just wish he would have left the other junk out of it.”
The mark up process is scheduled to begin this week, so stay logged on to TransportationNation.com for the latest.